Skip to main content

Invitrogen, Becton Dickinson, Cytopeia, National Institutes of Health – Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, Colgate University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Premium
Invitrogen Launches Cell Therapy Unit
 
Invitrogen said this week that it has created a new business unit that is focused on the cell therapy market.
 
The Carlsbad, Calif.-based firm said the new Cell Therapy Systems business would integrate relevant technologies, such as Dynal magnetic beads for cell isolation, Gibco cell expansion media, and Molecular Probes cell characterization tools.
 
“We bring project-management capabilities to the table, pulling together tools, reagents, and services from across the company to meet the specific needs of cell therapy companies,” said Joydeep Goswami, Invitrogen’s vice president of stem cells and regenerative medicine, in a statement.
 
Invitrogen began focusing more on the cell analysis tools market, rather than its traditional molecular biology markets, last year.
 
During the firm’s third-quarter conference call in October, Invitrogen CEO Greg Lucier said that the company planned to invest more heavily in cell biology because it saw “extremely promising growth trends” in the field. “We are putting the cell at the center of our strategy — [it is] the key link between our BioDiscovery and Cell Culture Systems segments,” Lucier said at the time.
 
Further to this strategy, in January Invitrogen acquired primary cell provider CellzDirect for around $57 million in cash. CellzDirect’s human hepatocyte-based cell products and services are used in drug testing, particularly for predicting the effect of compounds on enzymatic metabolism in the liver.
 
It also acquired cell culture technologies firm Cascade Biologics at the beginning of 2007, and earlier this year announced that it had made a minority investment in cell therapy firm Q Therapeutics, which is developing cell-based therapies for a variety of central nervous system and neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
 
Invitrogen currently reports financials for two primary business units: Bio-Discovery and Cell Systems. A company spokesperson said that the new Cell Therapy Systems unit would be part of the Cell Systems segment.
 

 
BD Acquires Cell Sorting Instrument Firm
 
Becton Dickinson said this week that it has acquired all of the outstanding stock of privately held Cytopeia, which makes advanced flow cytometry cell sorting instruments.
 
BD did not disclose financial terms of the acquisition, but said that is not expected to have a material impact on its 2008 earnings.
 
Franklin Lakes, NJ-based BD said that Cytopeia’s Influx cell sorter provides the firm with an open, configurable cell sorting platform that can be fully optimized for application-specific requirements. It said the Influx could be used in cell therapy research, stem cell research, drug discovery and development, and marine biology applications and is complementary to its FACSAria II system.
 
Seattle-based Cytopeia was the first spin-off from the Institute for Systems Biology.
 
Cytopeia President and Chief Technology Officer Ger van den Engh will join BD Biosciences as VP of advanced cytometry and continue research and technology development activities in Seattle, said BD.
 

 
NIH to Fund Biomedical Research Centers with $18M Next Year
 
The National Center for Research Resources plans to commit around $18 million next year to continue support for the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence, which are thematic, multi-disciplinary centers.
 
According to a National Institutes of Health request for applications released last week, NCRR will support roughly nine renewal programs with up to $1.5 million per year in direct costs over five years.
 
Support for the COBRE programs after 2009 will depend on the availability of funds and on the number of meritorious applications, NIH said.
 
Non-federal matching funds are not required for these applications, but evidence of the institution’s commitment must be described or documented.
 
The COBRE programs should ideally include between three and five individual research projects that stand alone but which also share a “common thematic scientific focus.”
 
Applications for the COBRE funding program are due Oct. 22, 2008.
 

 
Colgate U. Lands $1.2M from HHMI for Systems Biology Undergrad Program
 
Colgate University said this week that it plans to use a $1.2 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to get its undergraduates started in systems biology research.
 
The school will use the funds to offer undergrads the option to major in mathematical biology beginning in the fall of 2009.
 
Colgate will hire a tenure-track systems biologist with a joint appointment in math and biology who will develop courses, lab modules, and new teaching tools related to this specific field.
 
The school said associate professor of biology Kenneth Belanger will direct the HHMI biology program, which also will include a science outreach for K – 12 teachers and pre-college students.
 
The programs will include summer research opportunities at the university, a series of systems biology speakers, a 10-week summer research program at the National Institutes of Health, and participation in an NIH Study Group.
 

The school said the program follows the opening of the new Robert H.N. Ho Interdisciplinary Science Center, which includes classrooms, research and teaching labs, and space for five different science departments, including a visualization lab focused on 3D scientific animations. The HHMI grant also will fund development of the VisLab animations by both Colgate students and faculty.

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.