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News Scan: Dec 5, 2008

Cellectricon Inks Deal with TAP to Develop, Manufacture DynaFlow HT Ion Channel Screening System
Cellectricon announced this week that it has signed a collaborative agreement with The Automation Partnership. Per the terms of the agreement, TAP will co-develop and manufacture the Dynaflow HT System, Cellectricon's next generation high-throughput ion channel screening platform.
The Dynaflow HT will be launched and commercially available in 2009.
Cellectricon CEO Jonas Ohlsson told CBA News in an e-mail this week that the company decided to partner with TAP because it wanted to partner with “a — if not the — leading provider for integration, design, and production for cell handling and cell-based systems supplying the pharma industry.”
Ohlsson went on to say that Cellectricon sought a manufacturing partner for the DynaFlow HT because it is “a small, focused company designing the specs and the core technology of our products,” and it does not focus on the electronics, mechanics, logistics, and other considerations necessary to build and produce these systems. “We stay with our core focus — the technology inside,” he explained.
The concept and technology behind the DynaFlow HT has been developed and validated over the last three years by Cellectricon in partnership with AstraZeneca (see CBA News, 6/13/08).

Fluxion Taps Westburg to Distribute Cell Imaging Products in Benelux, Scandinavia
Fluxion Biosciences said this week that it has signed an exclusive agreement with Leusden, Netherlands-based Westburg, under which Westburg will market Fluxion’s BioFlux live cell image analysis platform in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
San Francisco-based Fluxion’s BioFlux 200 system is a microfluidic-based platform designed for live cell imaging in applications such as cell adhesion and microbial biofilm studies.
"The relationship will complement Westburg's product portfolio and give us access to their cell biology customers," said Mark Atlas, director of sales for Fluxion, in a statement.

MDS Institutes Finance Program Through Alexander Capital
MDS Analytical Technologies this week announced a new financing program through Alexander Capital Corporation. This program will offer customers financing solutions designed to overcome various budgetary constraints.
ACC will provide customized financing to qualified MDS Analytical Technologies customers for the purchase of Molecular Devices-branded instrumentation, software, reagents, consumables, and service contracts. ACC’s program is tailored to each customer, and includes such options as operating and finance leases, and payment terms with no transaction size limit.
All instrument systems sold in North America through the MDS Analytical Technologies Molecular Devices sales channel are covered within the program, and include ImageXpress, IsoCyte, FLIPR, IonWorks, CellKey, and Axon Cellular Neuroscience systems, as well as other products offered by the company. 

Horizon Licenses Gene Engineering Technology from University of Washington
Horizon Discovery said last week that it has licensed exclusive worldwide rights from the University of Washington to a gene engineering technology that is used as part of its Genesis platform.
The Cambridge, UK-based firm said that the Genesis platform is used to create patient-relevant disease models, called X-Man cell lines. The firm has developed more than 100 of these cell models that are intended to help drug researchers understand how cancer manifests itself in real patients and to help in the development of personalized therapeutics, diagnostics, and theranostic tests.
The viral-based gene engineering technology is “absolutely essential to generating X-Man lines efficiently and reproducibly,” the firm said in a statement.
“In 2009, we will disseminate our technology (and the products and services based upon it) to all levels of academic, industrial and clinical research and begin the process of co-opting the support of healthcare and political leaders; critical in implementing changes in how personalized treatments are discovered and administered," said Horizon Discovery CEO Chris Torrance.
Terms of the license were not disclosed.

CDI Gets $18M in Financing, Merges with Other UW Spinouts
Stem cell research tools company Cellular Dynamics International, a spinout from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, said last week that it closed an $18 million Series A financing round, and it has merged with two sister UW spinouts, Stem Cell Products and iPS Cells.
The round of financing was led by Tactics II Stem Cell Ventures and by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The new company will continue to operate under the name Cellular Dynamics International.
Financial terms of the merger were not released.
CDI is commercializing pluripotent stem cell-derived heart cells and other cell types for use by the pharmaceutical industry to test drugs for toxicity. The firm also said that it is establishing infrastructure for producing human stem cell types and for research to create stem cell biobanks that will use reprogramming to show the utility of banking individual stem cell lines for future use.
Cell types that the company derives from these banked stem cells will provide a basis for developing genetically diversified and personalized cell lines for therapeutic purposes and for studying potential drug reactions for individuals.

PerkinElmer Becomes Corporate Sponsor for EMBL
PerkinElmer said last week that it will sponsor the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s Advanced Training Centre in Heidelberg, Germany, and in return it will use the center’s facilities, training programs, and conference and events services.
Under the agreement, the company joined the European-funded EMBL’s Corporate Partnership Program, which is intended to create and enhance relationships with the molecular biology business community.
The center, which will be inaugurated in 2009, will serve as a “central platform for training and exchange in molecular biology in Europe,” EMBL Director General Iain Mattaj said in a statement.

Financial terms of the sponsorship agreement were not released.

The Scan

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.

Analysis of Endogenous Parvoviral Elements Found Within Animal Genomes

Researchers at PLOS Biology have examined the coevolution of endogenous parvoviral elements and animal genomes to gain insight into using the viruses as gene therapy vectors.

Saliva Testing Can Reveal Mosaic CNVs Important in Intellectual Disability

An Australian team has compared the yield of chromosomal microarray testing of both blood and saliva samples for syndromic intellectual disability in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.