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Millipore, Caliper Life Sciences, NIH, MLPCN, AstraZeneca, Compendia Bioscience, Velocity11, I-STEM, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Cognition Therapeutics, ProBioGen

Millipore Launches Product Validation Initiative
Millipore is launching an initiative to provide what it calls “Stem Cell Tested” products. Through this initiative, many of Millipore’s filter products will be validated for use on stem cells.
Millipore’s Stericup with Express PLUS membrane is the first product available under this initiative. According to Millipore, after filtering media through a Stericup with Express PLUS membrane, stem cells were passaged five times and tested for pluripotency with no negative effect.

Caliper Launches Drug Discovery Services
Caliper Life Sciences has launched drug combination services through Caliper Discovery Alliances and Services, the company announced this week.
The studies will be performed using Caliper's anti-cancer cell proliferation panel, cellular cytokine/chemokine release assays, or in vivo efficacy models, and will help identify synergistic responses of drug combinations and eliminate antagonistic mixtures of drugs.

NIH to Support Development of Assays, Chemical Probes Under Roadmap Initiative
The National Institutes of Health is soliciting high-throughput screening assay applications from public or private investigators who are interested in working with the NIH Roadmap-funded Molecular Libraries Probe Production Centers Network.
NIH on issued Nov. 30 two solicitations under its Molecular Libraries and Imaging Roadmap Initiative with the goal of developing chemical probes for the MLPCN, a collaborative research network that follows on the Molecular Libraries Screening Centers Network that NIH created in 2005.
NIH said that as of July 1, 2008, the MLSCN will become the MLPCN “with the emphasis on probe discovery and development.”
The MLPCN is expected to perform more than 100 biochemical or cell-based assays solicited from the scientific community against a library of more than 300,000 compounds, NIH said.
The centers will develop expertise and skills in assay development, assay adaptation and implementation, high-throughput screening, informatics, structure-activity relationship analysis, cheminformatics, and chemistry.
On Friday, NIH released two solicitations for assays that will be implemented in the MLPCN. One uses the R03 small research grant mechanism and the other is under the X01 resource access mechanism
Under the R03 solicitation, budgets for total costs are limited to $25,000 for each award and the project period is limited to one year with a one-year no-cost extension.
Under the X01 solicitation, NIH said it will support “the costs of assay automation, screening and optimization chemistry.”
NIH said the program is aimed at developing new chemical probes as research tools to advance the understanding of biological functions and disease mechanisms.

AstraZeneca to Evaluate Compendia's Oncomine Software
AstraZeneca has licensed Compendia Bioscience’s data mining and visualization software, Compendia said this week.
AstraZeneca will use the company’s Oncomine Concepts Edition software in a year-long pilot program in order to evaluate how it can be used in its cancer research programs.
Oncomine combines almost 7,000 proprietary cancer gene signatures with 11,000 gene, drug, and pathway signatures taken from the literature and other public sources, Compendia said.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Velocity11 Installs Automation Software at I-STEM
Velocity11 has installed at I-STEM in Evry, France, a high-throughput automated stem cell culture and screening platform, the company announced this week.
I-STEM is a new organization formed by INSERM, the French national institute of health, in collaboration with AFM, the French muscular dystrophy association, for the purpose of validating the feasibility of using human embryonic stem cells for therapeutics, both through cell therapy and in drug discovery.
One goal of I-STEM is to establish a department of high-throughput screening that is able to speed up the process of discovery of new treatments against monogenic diseases using human embryonic stem cells.
I-STEM aims to undertake, with its new automation systems, two to five HTS campaigns per year on embryonic stem cells.
Using a design based on the BioCel 1800 automation system, the I-STEM platform will use Velocity11's VWorks automation control software, an event driven controller, to manage protocols and execute process runs. Liquid handling on the new I-STEM platform will be handled by two VPrep pipetting systems.
The first VPrep system will use a 96 LT pipetting head (volume range 2-200µl) and be dedicated to stem cell culturing. The second VPrep system will employ a 96 ST head (volume range 0.5-30µl) and be dedicated to compound management.
The I-STEM platform will store and dispense microplates and tip racks using a compact VStack automated plate stacker. The Velocity11 lid hotel will be used to handle microplate lids. The Velocity11 bar code label print and apply station, VCode, will be used for plate tracking. A PlateLoc thermal plate sealer has been integrated into the I-STEM platform in order to provide the capability to seal compound plates after each run. 
The system will mark the first time that stem cell culture and screening will be automated to this level of complexity in a 96-well microplate format and at this level of throughput, Velocity11 said.

PLSG Helps Cognition Therapeutics Relocate, Invests $200K
The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse this week announced that it has helped Cognition Therapeutics relocate to southwestern Pennsylvania and has invested $200,000 in the company. In addition, the PLSG has assisted Cognition in establishing regional operations and has provided connections to additional sources of capital and equipment.
Cognition employees are currently occupying office space in the PLSG incubator and laboratory on Pittsburgh’s South Side.
Cognition is an early-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of small-molecule therapeutics targeting the toxic proteins that cause the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

ProBioGen Exclusively Licenses Avian Cell Line
ProBioGen has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with an undisclosed US vaccine development company for its avian cell line AGE1.CR.
The agreement was signed and covers a total of four indications, including different forms of influenza and three additional, unspecified disease areas.
ProBioGen will receive upfront payments plus potential milestone payments from its licensee. In addition, the licensing agreement provides a significant upside for ProBioGen through potential revenue streams from royalties over the next several years.

The Scan

Harvard Team Report One-Time Base Editing Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease in Mice

A base-editing approach restored SMN levels and improved motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy, a new Science paper reports.

International Team Examines History of North American Horses

Genetic and other analyses presented in Science find that horses spread to the northern Rockies and Great Plains by the first half of the 17th century.

New Study Examines Genetic Dominance Within UK Biobank

Researchers analyze instances of genetic dominance within UK Biobank data, as they report in Science.

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.