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Aurora Discovery, Pharmacopeia, Guava Technologies, The Strategic Research Institute, Axon Instruments, and Invitrogen


Aurora Will Supply Leading Pharma Company with Instruments

Aurora Discovery announced April 9 that it had begun delivery of its Discovery System modular automation platform to an undisclosed major pharmaceutical customer.

The deal marks the eighth such system installed this year. The Discovery System encompasses technology such as Aurora’s Flying Reagent Dispenser, topology compensating plate reader, and high-density 1,536- and 3,456-well plates to provide high-throughput capabilities for a variety of cell-based and biochemical assays.

In addition, last week Aurora and Xystus, of La Jolla, Calif., announced that they had inked an agreement to co-market and deliver complete research systems for the life sciences market. The platform will comprise Aurora’s existing microfluidic instrumentation and high-density microplates with Xystus’ X-PRES pharmaceutical research system.

Pharmacopeia Expects to Complete Drug Discovery Spin-Off by May

Pharmacopeia announced on April 7 that its PDD (Pharmacopeia Drug Discovery) unit spin-off was expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Under the spin-off, first announced in December last year, the company will split its drug discovery and software businesses into two independent, publicly traded companies. Pending NASDAQ approval, PDD common stock will trade under the symbol “PCOP,” while Pharmacopeia plans to change its name to Accelrys to reflect its focus on software.

Last week, the company declared a dividend of all the outstanding shares of PDD common stock, which will be distributed to Pharmacopeia stockholders at the ration of one share of PDD stock for every two of Pharmacopeia stock held.

The Princeton, NJ-based company integrates proprietary small molecule combinatorial and medicinal chemistry, high-throughput screening, in vitro pharmacology, computational methods and informatics to discover and optimize lead compounds. Its software subsidiary develops and commercializes molecular modeling and simulation software for the life sciences and materials research markets; cheminformatics and decision support systems; and bioinformatics tools, including gene sequence analysis.

Guava Cell Migration Assays Enable Measurement of Chemotaxis

Guava Technologies’ collaborators at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands have demonstrated that the Guava Express assay and Personal Cell Analysis system can be used in an actin polymerization assay to quickly measure cell migration in response to a chemical stimulus, the company said.

According to Guava, the assay and cell analysis system provide a way to screen for drug compounds that affect cell migration, a fundamental property of immune cells.

The Guava Express assay can detect low levels of antigens in whole cells. The assay also uses proprietary Guava Express software, a Guava PCA cellular analysis system and secondary reagents. Applications of the assay include cell receptor up- or down-regulation, transfectant screening, and evaluation of whole blood lymphocyte populations.

Strategic Research Institute Meeting to Focus on GPCRs in Drug Discovery

The Strategic Research Institute will hold its 3rd Annual “G-Protein Coupled Receptors Drug Discovery World Summit” on April 22 and 23 in San Diego. The summit will feature over 25 presentations from academia as well as from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

GPCRs have become a key target in cell-based and biochemical assays for the purpose of drug discovery.

Keynote speakers include Brian O’Dowd, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Toronto, and Krzysztof Palczewski, a researcher in ophthalmology, pharmacology, and chemistry at the University of Washington. More information about the conference can be found on the Strategic Research Institute website,

Axon Will Supply Scanners Based on ImageXpress Platform for Affymetrix Chips

Axon Instruments announced last week that it had penned a multiyear agreement with Affymetrix to supply scanners for Affymetrix’ GeneChip array.

The scanners are modified versions of Axon’s popular ImageXpress 5000A automated cellular imaging and analysis system, used for high-throughput cell-based assays. The company said the modifications include hardware and software enhancements developed in collaboration with Affymetrix.

Under the terms of the agreement, Affymetrix will purchase a minimum number of modified scanners and software to be included as part of an entire GeneChip high-throughput array system.

Invitrogen ScheduleS Conference Call

Invitrogen released on April 15 details of its upcoming earnings release, conference call, and slide webcast. The company’s first-quarter 2004 results will be released on April 22 prior to the market’s opening, to be followed at 11 AM EST with a conference call and webcast, available at

The Scan

Study Links Evolution of Longevity, Social Organization in Mammals

With the help of comparative phylogenetics and transcriptomics, researchers in Nature Communications see ties between lifespan and social organization in mammals.

Tumor Microenvironment Immune Score Provides Immunotherapy Response, Prognostic Insights

Using multiple in situ analyses and RNA sequence data, researchers in eBioMedicine have developed a score associated with immunotherapy response or survival.

CRISPR-Based Method for Finding Cancer-Associated Exosomal MicroRNAs in Blood

A team from China presents in ACS Sensors a liposome-mediated membrane fusion strategy for detecting miRNAs carried in exosomes in the blood with a CRISPR-mediated reporter system.

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.