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Norak Bioscience, BASF and Lundbeck, Invitrogen and Exelixis, Seikagaku and Evotec OAI, Xantos Biomedicine and OriGene Technologies, NanoString Technologies, and Caliper Life Sciences


Norak to Screen Against GPCRs for BASF; Extends Agreement with Lundbeck

Norak Bioscience will use its Transfluor technology to discover compounds that act against G protein-coupled receptor targets developed by BASF, the company said last week.

Under the terms of the agreement, Norak, based in Research Triangle Park, NC, will use Transfluor to screen a selected portion of its larger compound library against GPCR targets provided by BASF, which is interested in optimizing and developing compounds for crop protection products, Norak said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed; however, Norak said it will receive technology access and screening fees, as well as milestones and royalties.

Norak also announced last week that Lundbeck has exercised its option to screen another of its GPCR targets of interest using Transfluor. The option was part of a screening collaboration agreement signed in December 2002, which stated that Norak would develop a Transfluor cell line expressing the GPCR target of interest for Lundbeck, and then screen the cell line at Norak using its high-throughput imaging systems against a compound library of Lundbeck’s choice.

Invitrogen and Exelixis Join Forces for Live-Cell Screening Assays

Invitrogen said last week that it has entered into an agreement with Exelixis that will see Invitrogen providing validated high-throughput screening assays for drug discovery in single live cells that Exelixis will use for lead discovery and optimization.

Under the terms of the agreement, Invitrogen’s drug discovery arm will provide Exelixis with GeneBlazer and Voltage Sensor Probe technologies for compound screening. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Invitrogen said it had recently announced an open architecture business model around GeneBlazer and VSP under which researchers are able to purchase the technologies without a licensing agreement.

Seikagaku Selects Evotec for Assay Development and Screening

Evotec OAI and Seikagaku said last week that they have entered into a collaboration to identify small molecule therapeutics for inflammatory diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, Evotec will develop assays and perform ultra-high throughput screening for Seikagaku to identify biologically active compounds from Evotec’s compound library that will interact with disease targets provided by Seikagaku. Active compounds identified in screening will be further characterized and prioritized by Evotec for progression into subsequent lead optimization programs, the company said.

Xantos to Use OriGene cDNA Clones for HTS

OriGene Technologies said last week that German drug discovery firm Xantos Biomedicine has acquired access to OriGene’s TrueClone collection of non-redundant, full-length human cDNA clones. Xantos will use its high-throughput cellular screening technology, XantoScreen, along with the clone collection to identify and functionally validate novel targets, the company said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

NanoString Raises $4.3M to Commercialize ISB’s Genetic Analysis Technology

NanoString Technologies said last week that it has secured $4.3 million in an investment round led by OVP Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

NanoString said it plans to use the funding to accelerate development of its technology platform, a single-molecule bar-coding system developed at the Institute for Systems Biology for use in gene expression analysis.

NanoString has an exclusive license with ISB for rights to the technology, which was developed by Krassen Dimitrov, chief scientific officer of NanoString and former director of microarrays at ISB. The company said it anticipates the technology to be as much as 100,000 times more sensitive than a DNA microarray.

Caliper Says Q2 Revenue Grew, Losses Were Flat

Caliper Life Sciences earlier this month reported a 222 percent gain in second-quarter revenues, driven by sales from Zymark, which the firm acquired in July 2003.

Total revenues for the three months ended June 30 surged to $18.9 million from $5.9 million one year ago. R&D spending fell to $6 million in the second quarter this year from $8.8 million year over year.

Second-quarter net losses for the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company came in at $9.5 million. The losses include a $2.4 million restructuring charge related to future lease costs of facilities no longer occupied following consolidation of its Mountain View, Calif., operations. The results also included $180,000 in severance charges and related benefits incurred in connection with the elimination of 14 positions.

Caliper finished the quarter with $52.9 million in cash, equivalents, and short-term marketable securities.


The Scan

Team Tracks Down Potential Blood Plasma Markers Linked to Heart Failure in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Researchers in BMC Genomics found 10 differentially expressed proteins or metabolites that marked atrial fibrillation with heart failure cases.

Study Points to Synonymous Mutation Effects on E. Coli Enzyme Activity

Researchers in Nature Chemistry saw signs of enzyme activity shifts in the presence of synonymous mutations in a multiscale modeling analysis of three Escherichia coli genes.

Team Outlines Paternal Sample-Free Single-Gene Approach for Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening

With data for nearly 9,200 pregnant individuals, researchers in Genetics in Medicine demonstrate the feasibility of their carrier screening and reflex single-gene non-invasive prenatal screening approach.

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.