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News Scan: Mar 13, 2009

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CompuCyte, Children's Hospital Boston Launch Joint Cytometry Program

CompuCyte and the program in cellular and molecular medicine at Children's Hospital Boston this week announced the establishment of a joint quantitative imaging cytometry program. The program in cellular and molecular medicine is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and is located in the Longwood Medical Area.

Under the terms of the agreement, CompuCyte will make its proprietary laser scanning cytometry instrumentation and technical support programs available to trained personnel, and will provide quantitative imaging cytometry and analysis services to the larger Longwood Medical Area community.


Obama Signs Budget Bill Including Spending Boosts for NIH, FDA

President Barack Obama this week signed off on the final version of the fiscal 2009 budget, which includes spending boosts for the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and other health and research-related agencies.

As reported this week on CBA News sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News, the Senate this week passed the $410 billion omnibus bill without amendments by a vote of 62 to 35.

The bill includes $30.3 billion for the NIH, an increase of $938 million over 2008. The FDA will receive a $335 million boost up to $2 billion, while $972 million would go to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, an increase of $41 million from the 2008 budget.


Albert Einstein Lands $12.7M in Funding For Stem Cell Research

The Empire State Stem Cell Board has awarded Albert Einstein College of Medicine funding for stem cell research totaling $12.7 million, the school announced this week.

An amount of $5.99 million was awarded to principal investigator Eric Bouhassira, the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The award will support the creation of the medical school's Comprehensive Pluripotent Stem Cell Center.

The center will consist of three units, including the human pluripotent stem cell unit that will produce patient specific stem cells, and the stem cell genomic unit that will allow Einstein scientists to study the genome of iPS cells in detail.

An additional award of $6.72 million will support nine separate research projects, including studies of basic stem cell biology and of potential therapies for obesity, leukemia, hepatitis, and age-related diseases.


MDS' Q1 Revenues Drop 13 Percent

MDS this week reported that its first-quarter revenues fell 13 percent year over year, with its MDS Analytical Technologies segment posting a 27 percent decline in revenues for the quarter.

The Toronto-based firm brought in total revenues of $257 million for the three-month period ended Jan. 31. It said that excluding the impact of foreign exchange, acquisitions, and divestitures, its revenues were down 1 percent year over year.

MDS Analytical Technologies had revenues of $85 million, down 27 percent from $116 million for the first quarter of 2008. "Declines were primarily driven by lower revenue and the impact of unfavorable foreign exchange due to hedge positions established in 2008, which were partially offset by savings associated with restructuring, the manufacturing transition to Asia, and a year-over-year reduction in R&D spending following the completion of key projects in the second half of 2008," the firm said in a statement.

MDS posted a profit of $2 million, or $.02 per share, versus a profit of $19 million, or $.16 per share, for the first quarter of 2008.

The company's R&D costs declined 30 percent to $14 million from $20 million, while its SG&A spending decreased 6 percent to $60 million from $64 million. The firm also took a $4 million restructuring charge for the first quarter.

MDS finished the quarter with $149 million in cash and cash equivalents.


CHDI, GlobalStem Ink Deal to Characterize Mouse ES Cell Lines for Huntington's Research

The CHDI Foundation has entered an agreement with GlobalStem to comprehensively expand, authenticate, and bank mouse embryonic stem cell lines that model Huntington's disease, the organizations announced this week.

GlobalStem will provide full characterization of the cells including sterility and Mycoplasma detection testing, karyotyping, and assaying for critical markers.

CHDI has generated various Huntington's disease mouse ES lines for use as research tools in the study of Huntington's disease. Each of these genetically manipulated cell lines is unique, and could potentially model different aspects of Huntington's disease, so a complete library of these lines, curated and distributed by GlobalStem, could be used to study disease mechanisms. They might also serve as novel reagents in drug screening campaigns.


ADMEcell, Advancell Ink Exclusive Manufacturing and Distribution Deal for CacoReady

ADMEcell announced this week that it has entered into an exclusive agreement with Advancell to manufacture and distribute the CacoReady system for the North American market.

The CacoReady system is a tool designed to optimize the time and cost of evaluating the intestinal absorption of compounds. The kit has been designed to be ready to use, user friendly, and appropriate for high-throughput automated procedures. It provides users with the differentiated Caco-2 barrier (21-day system), plated on 24- or 96-Transwell plates.

The CacoReady product is shipped in proprietary shipping media at room temperature, and arrives ready for immediate use.

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.