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Norak Biosciences and Curis, MultiCell and Eisai, Magellan Biosciences, Dynex Technologies and Capital Genomix, Biolog and Johns Hopkins University, and Society for Biomolecular Screening

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Norak Inks Screening Agreement with Curis

Norak Biosciences said last week that it has signed a research agreement with Curis in which Norak will use its Transfluor technology to study an undisclosed class of receptors for Curis.

Under the terms of the agreement, Norak will use Transfluor to develop cell lines expressing the Curis receptors. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The agreement falls under Norak’s stated plan for near-term growth and revenue by offering services and products based on Transfluor to industry partners. The company has stated that its plan for long-term growth revolves around its internal drug discovery programs.

Last week’s deal is the sixth screening services or licensing agreement signed by Norak in the past year. The company has also publicly announced collaborations with Purdue Pharma, Merck, Roche, Lundbeck, and BASF.


MultiCell Licensees Nab Hepatocyte Deal with Eisai

MultiCell, of Warwick, RI, announced last week that Japanese pharmaceutical firm Eisai has signed a three-year use and propagation license for MultiCell’s proprietary hepatocyte cell lines.

XenoTech is the exclusive licensee for MultiCell’s hepatocytes in the US. Eisai signed the licensing deal with Nosan, XenoTech’s exclusive sub-licensee in Japan.

MultiCell said the contract was in the six figures in US dollars, and it allows Eisai to grow and use Fa2N-4 hepatocytes for internal testing purposes at a specific site.

MultiCell’s hepatocytes are non-tumorigenic, functional cell lines for induction studies and toxicity screening for drug discovery purposes.


Magellan Buys Dynex from Capital Genomix

Magellan Biosciences has acquired Dynex Technologies, a clinical diagnostics and drug-discovery company and the instrumentation division of Capital Genomix, Capital Genomix said last week.

Dynex will operate as a subsidiary of Magellan, which was “established to build a leading life science tools company” through “growth and acquisitions,” the companies said in a statement. Ampersand Ventures owns a majority of Magellan.

“This transaction will provide Capital Genomix with the necessary working capital to accelerate our drug discovery and development programs,” James Wishart, Capital Genomics CEO, said in the statement.

Magellan is based in Chelmsford, Mass. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.


Biolog Wins NIH Grant to Study Pathogens With its Microarray Technology; Wash U is Partner

Biolog has won an STTR grant from the US National Institutes of Health to study the yeast genome using its Phenotype Microarray technology, the company said yesterday.

Biolog will conduct the study in collaboration with researchers at the High Throughput Biology Center at Johns Hopkins University.

The award comes one week after Biolog was awarded an NIH Small Business Technology Transfer grant to help the company further develop the Phenotype MicroArray technology. The amount of the grant was not disclosed. Biolog said it intends to use the technology against fastidious pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni, the causes of peptic ulcers and certain food poisonings, in its collaboration with Washington University, the firm said.


SBS Establishes Endowment Fund for 2005 Small Grants Program

The Society for Biomolecular Screening has established an endowment for the initiation of a small grants program, the organization said last week.

SBS is a non-profit scientific society dedicated to drug discovery and related fields. Its Small Grants program annually presents $25,000 to selected recipients.

Those interested in applying for the 2005 Small Grants Award should submit applications by Feb. 18, 2005, SBS said. Reviews will be conducted through May, with notification due in June. To be eligible, applicants must be employed full-time at a college, university, or non-profit research institute.

Interested parties may find more information on the grants by visiting http://www.sbsonline.org.

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.