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Cellumen, Axon Instruments, and Aria Biosystems

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New Cell-Based Screening Company Launches in Pittsburgh

Lansing Taylor, co-founder of Cellomics, Biological Detection Systems, and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, has founded a new company, Cellumen, the company said on June 14 in its maiden announcement.

According to an official company statement, Cellumen will initially be headquarted at the PLSG’s incubator and will form drug discovery collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. It will use a combination of high-content screening and advanced, cell-based reagents and cell lines, the company said.

Taylor joined with Alan Waggoner from Carnegie Mellon University, who has had a hand in creating other life sciences technologies and commercializing products with Taylor while at BDS and Cellomics. BDS developed the widely used cyanine fluorescent dyes that have since been acquired by Amersham Biosciences (now GE Healthcare). Cellomics was one of the first major players in the cell-based assay instrumentation market.

Taylor and scientist Kenneth Giuliano will be Cellumen’s first two employees. The company expects to have a total staff of five to six employees by the end of its first year of operation, the company said.


Axon Releases Single-Cell Electroporator

Axon Instruments announced on June 15 that it has released a single-cell electroporator called the Axoporator 800A.

Single-cell electroporation was invented by James Rae at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine; Kurt Haas and Hollis Cline at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; and Owe Orwar at the Chalmers University of Technology. It is used to insert biological molecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins, fluorescent dyes, and drugs into single isolated cells in culture using an electrical charge.

Typically, electroporation has been performed on many cells at once, but with low success rates and high mortality. Axon claims that its elctroporator can achieve average transfection and cell survival rates near 80 percent.

The Axoporator incorporates ElectroFlow technology licensed from Swedish cell-based assay company Cellectricon (see Inside Bioassays, 6/1/2004).


Aria Biosystems Raises $5.5M in First Round of VC Funding

Aria Biosystems, a biomolecular sensor startup, has raised $5.5 million in an initial round of venture capital financing, the company said on June 15.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said it will use the proceeds to complete development of a first product and to further development of subsequent products.

Aria’s technology is based on fiber optics and adopted from the telecommunications industry. The disposable sensors are self-calibrating, and can measure concentrations of analytes and binding kinetics in real time, without labeling, according to the company.

Alloy Ventures and Latterell Venture Partners co-led the round, and were joined by Agilent Ventures and Versant Ventures. Aria also announced that Craig Taylor, general partner of Alloy Ventures, James Woody, a venture partner of Latterell Venture Partners; and Deborah Neff, President and CEO of Predicant Biosciences, would be joining the company’s board, along with Aria CEO and co-founder Winnie Wan.

Other founding executives of Aria include Hong Tan, president and chief technical officer, Dave Hoyt, chief financial officer, and Bob Zuk, vice president of development.

The Scan

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.