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European Science Foundation, Unigen Pharmaceuticals, Baylor, U Minn, Mayo Clinic, GenMab, BioReliance, Gentronix

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European Science Foundation Proposes 'Massive' Systems Biology Program
 
Members of the European Science Foundation have issued a report urging European nations to create an aggressive and interdependent human systems biology program.
 
The nine-member ESF Task Force has challenged European governments to pump funds into multi-center systems biology research programs and create research hubs that share technology and work on the same larger projects from various disciplinary approaches.
 
“For Europe to take its lead in the research of systems biology, the continent needs to establish an interactive network itself, meaning that nations should not independently address their own parts of the 'grand challenge' of systems biology,” the Task Force said in a statement. “A paradigm shift is needed therefore, away from isolated, country-based, molecular biology and physiology, to extensive and intensive networks of excellent scientists across Europe.”
 
The Task Force’s recommendations are based on a report, called "Systems Biology: A Grand Challenge for Europe," in which its authors point to initial steps that can be taken to pursue integrative systems biology research across Europe.
 
The Task Force proposed that the ESF’s 75 member organization and other groups may first open discussions about developing a multi-center systems biology program that initially would tackle one or two diseases or research areas, such as obesity or cancer.
 
Eventually, a “massive initiative” would be needed to develop “the kinds of technology that can look at networks in cells, clusters of cells, organs and bodies,” the group said.
 
Among the Task Force’s recommendations: create a task force of representatives from organizations “investing in, or soon to invest, in systems biology” supported by a European Systems Biology Office.
 
Such a group would “initiate, coordinate, and fund a single Grand Action on Systems Biology, called GRASB, consisting of activities working towards the integral 'Networks for Life' project and become the world's largest, best integrated, hence most effective systems biology program."
 
The group would also “call for applications and expressions of interest in developing technology for and in carrying out world-leading systems biology research; a network of research on systems biotechnology; a network of research on multifactorial disease; a network of training activities; a network of European Reference Laboratories; and one or two Centers for Advanced Studies.”
 
It would also “organize workshops to ensure activities are kept up to date; develop a program for GRASB, including funding mechanisms; and define ways of disseminating strategies for all GRASB activities.”
 

 
Unigen to Use Omics Tools to Discover Potential Therapeutics in Atlantic Ocean Microbes
 
Unigen Pharmaceuticals said last week that it has teamed up with the University of Prince Edward Island to study marine microorganisms from the Atlantic Ocean with the hopes of making discoveries that may lead to new therapeutics and commercial products.
 
The marine collection research will be led by Russell Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Marine Natural Products at UPEI, who has been collecting samples from tropical Atlantic waters for two decades.
 
Unigen will extract the microbes from the samples and fractionate them using a high-throughput purification system, and will test these fractions on "biochemical, genomic, proteomic, in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo models," the company said.
 
The company said active ingredients will be "separated and identified as leads for the development of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmoceutical, and functional food products."
 

 
Baylor, U Minn, Mayo Adopt Open Biosystems' RNAi Program
 
Open Biosystems yesterday said that three US research centers have adopted its RNAi Program, which gives access to the company’s shRNA libraries, technical support, and access to extensions of existing libraries.
 
Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic will use the Open Biosystems programs in several types of genome studies, the company said.
 
Open Biosystems' portfolio of RNAi resources include shRNAmir lentiviral and retroviral libraries targeting the entire human and mouse genomes, the RNAi Consortium human and mouse lentiviral shRNA libraries, lentiviral inducible shRNAmir library targeting the human genome, and RNAi collections targeting Drosophila, C. elegans, and zebrafish.
 
Financial terms of the agreements were not released.
 

 
GenMab Extends Use of IDBS Software
 
IDBS this week announced that Genmab has extended its use of ActivityBase Xtended Edition (ActivityBase XE) within its hybridoma discovery department.
 
Genmab initially purchased ActivityBase XE in 2006 to handle the design, capture, storage, and retrieval of their plate-based screening data. Following the successful implementation of the software program, Genmab has more than doubled the number of ActivityBase XE licenses.
 

 
BioReliance Will Include Gentronix GreenScreen HC in Genotox Portfolio
 
BioReliance has announced that it has contracted with Gentronix to offer their GreenScreen HC in vitro assay as a major part of BioReliance's portfolio of genotoxicity screening services.
 
GreenScreen HC is a human cell-based genotoxicity screening assay that links the regulation of the human growth arrest and DNA damage (GADD45a) gene to the production of green fluorescent protein. Cells that have incurred DNA damage upon exposure to a test compound express higher levels of detectable GFP.
 
GreenScreen HC requires 1 mg of starting material to demonstrate high specificity. GreenScreen HC is able to detect multiple mechanistic classes of genotoxic agents, including aneugens, and can be adapted to automatic robotic platforms.

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