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International Alliance for NanoEHS Harmonization, Fluorotechnics, The Gel Company, National Institutes of Health, Fluidigm, Thermo Fisher, KPL

Researchers Launch Collaborative Effort to Promote Nanomaterials Tox Testing
A team of materials scientists and toxicologists this week announced the formation of the International Alliance for NanoEHS Harmonization, or IANH, an international research alliance to establish protocols for reproducible toxicological testing of nanomaterials in both cultured cells and animals. The alliance was unveiled at Nanotox 2008, held in Zürich, Switzerland, this week.
IANH said it plans to establish testing protocols that enable reproducible toxicological testing of nanomaterials at the cell and animal levels, and to start developing correlations between these two systems.
IANH members have agreed to develop specific tools and testing protocols, and to perform a set of round-robin experiments to lay the foundation for reproducible testing of nanomaterial biological interactions and toxicology. The alliance will establish protocols that can be shared with other researchers and promote experiments to evaluate correlations between in vitro testing and toxicological interactions in mammals and aquatic animals.
The IANH team includes Wolfgang Kreyling of Helmholtz Institute in Germany; Kenneth Dawson of University College Dublin in Ireland; Gaku Ichihara of Nagoya University and Kun'ichi Miyazawa of the National Institute for Materials Science, both in Japan; Harald Krug of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research; Vicki Stone of Napier University in the United Kingdom; Vince Castranova, Mark Hoover, Dale Porter, and Aleksandr Stefaniak of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States; and Vicki Colvin of Rice University, Fred Klaessig of Degussa, Andre' Nel of the University of California at Los Angeles, Günter Oberdörster and Alison Elder of the University of Rochester, and Mark Wiesner of Duke University, all in the US.
Others collaborating with this alliance include Gert Roebben and Hendrik Emons of the Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements from the European Union Joint Research Centre. From the US, Vince Hackley of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Scott McNeil of the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute, are also collaborating with the alliance.

Aussie Electrophoresis Company Buys US-based GelCo
Australian fluorescence products developer Fluorotechnics announced this week that has purchased The Gel Company for an undisclosed sum.
The San Francisco-based GelCo provides a variety of products for applications in DNA sequencing, proteomics, cell culture, liquid handling, microarrays, and PCR.
Fluorotechnics said the GelCo product suite allows its non-fluorescent backed gels to “operate on most equipment platforms used in the typical proteomics workflow.” In addition, GelCo’s distribution office in San Francisco will give Fluorotechnics a “very useful launch pad for the US Market,” Fluorotechnics CEO Duncan Veal said in a statement.

NIH Issues RFA for 'Transformational R01' Roadmap Program
The National Institutes of Health this week issued a request for applications for a $250 million plan to fund “transformative” research through a new type of grants that are designed to lower the hurdles researchers face as they try to win backing for “bold [and] creative” science.
The “Transformative R01” or T-R01, Program is aimed at helping scientists bypass some of the structure and review bottlenecks that can hinder the success of “the most bold, creative, and risky research proposals,” NIH said in a statement this week
NIH Director Elias Zerhouni said in the statement that the T-R01 program will “pilot novel approaches to peer review to facilitate identification and support of the most ground-breaking, high impact research and augment the existing Pioneer and New Innovator Awards programs."
The trans-NIH initiative is funded under the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research and is coordinated through the Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives.
“This new mechanism is designed to encourage the generation of new scientific paradigms or the disruption of old ones," OPASI Director Alan Krensky said. He added that the program is the result of “years of discussion as to how to encourage thinking outside of the box.”
The T-R01 effort will support original studies that will create “new paradigms” for biomedical or behavioral sciences, show exceptional creativity in proposing “bold and groundbreaking” approaches to fundamental problems, promote “radical changes” that will impact other scientific areas, and will be evaluated under new procedures that the NIH Center for Scientific Review is currently piloting.
“The hope is that the T-R01 Program will liberate scientists to unveil extraordinary ideas and approaches, and that novel review and support procedures will select the best for funding," said Keith Yamamoto, who is co-chair of the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Enhancing Peer Review.
Scientists from a broad range of biomedical areas including biological, clinical, social, physical, chemical, computational, engineering, and mathematical sciences, are encouraged to apply. Specific areas NIH has highlighted include pharmacogenomics, protein capture, functional variation in mitochondria, complex 3-D tissue models, the science of behavior change, and acute to chronic pain transition.
NIH is currently accepting applications for the program, and it plans to fund the first awards in 2009. It hopes to announce the T-R01 program again in 2010 if funds are available.

Fluidigm Expects IPO Range of $14 to $16 Per Share
Fluidigm expects to offer 5.3 million shares of common stock at a price of between $14 and $16 in its initial public offering, according to an amended registration statement filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week.
The South San Francisco, Calif.-based firm said it expects to raise net proceeds of roughly $70.8 million, assuming an offering price of $15 per share. If the underwriters’ over-allotment option is exercised in full, Fluidigm could receive net proceeds of $81.9 million.
Fluidigm said that plans to use around $26 million of the funds for sales and marketing initiatives, including expanding its sales force; $16 million for research and development activities; $2 million to expand its facilities and manufacturing operations; and the balance for working capital and general corporate purposes.
The company makes integrated fluidic circuit systems for performing life science experiments in parallel on a single chip. One of its fluidic systems, the BioMark, is used for gene expression analysis, genotyping, and digital PCR, while another, the Topaz system, is used for protein crystallization research.
Fludigim disclosed in its most recent filing that its first-half 2008 revenues rose 83 percent to $5.5 million from $3 million in the first half of 2007. Its net loss for the first six months of the year increased 18 percent to $15.3 million, or $5.39 per share, from $13 million, or $4.74 per share, in the comparable period of 2007.
Fluidigm’s R&D expenses increased slightly to $7.2 million from $7.1 million, while its SG&A spending jumped 58 percent to $9.8 million from $6.2 million.
The firm initially filed for the IPO in April. Morgan Stanley is the book-running manager for the offering, with UBS, Leerink Swann, and Pacific Growth Equities acting as co-managers.
As of June 28, Fluidigm held $32.5 million in cash, cash equivalents, and available-for-sale securities.

Thermo Fisher, KPL Partner on Fluorescent Dyes
Thermo Fisher Scientific announced last week that it has signed a non-exclusive agreement giving KPL global rights to use Thermo’s DyLight Fluorescent Dyes in combination with KPL’s line of antibodies and proteins.
The antibodies and dyes can be used in a variety of life science research applications including fluorescence microscopy, Western blotting, and flow cytometry. KPL said it is expanding its offering of DyLight conjugates later this year using a complete series of DyLight dyes across the visible spectrum.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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