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Pfizer, UCB, UK Technology Strategy Board, Fluorotechnics, Stem Cell Sciences

Pfizer, UCB Join Forces to Found Microfluidic Company Cyclofluidic
Pfizer and UCB this week announced the formation of Cyclofluidic, a technology company established to accelerate the drug-discovery process by allowing researchers to test more potential new drugs in a shorter time. The UK government’s Technology Strategy Board helped facilitate the formation of Cyclofluidic and will continue to support the company by co-funding its R&D.
The aim of Cyclofluidic is to develop technologies that automate and integrate the flow chemistry and flow biology processes to help pharmaceutical companies shorten timelines within the drug development process.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the TSB, said in a statement, “Cyclofluidic is an excellent example of the private and public sectors working together to develop world-leading technologies which have the potential to bring enormous benefit to patients in the UK and around the world. We are delighted to offer our support and investment."
“Cyclofluidic’s entry into the rapidly evolving microfluidic technology area has the potential to radically transform the medicinal chemistry and biology interface,” Neil Weir, senior vice president of research at UCB, said in a statement. “It’s an exciting opportunity for UCB and Pfizer to collaborate and offers real potential for improved productivity.”
Annette Doherty, vice president and research head at Pfizer’s European R&D headquarters, said in a statement that the company is “extremely pleased to collaborate with UCB and the Technology Strategy Board to help improve efficiency in the drug-development process. We are excited by the potential of this new partnership to help us identify the most effective medicines for later stages of development and ultimately, to create new and improved therapies for patients.”
Cyclofluidic will be jointly owned by Pfizer and UCB, with each company having both a seat and scientific observer rights on the board.
Cyclofluidic will develop a microfluidic, closed loop lead optimization platform which will enable researchers to access expertise in flow chemistry, flow screening, and microfluidic engineering through extensive collaboration with academics and component manufacturers.
Cyclofluidic will also provide training for both flow chemistry and biology scientists at its facility, to be located in the south of England.

Fluortechnics Closes IPO, Acquires The Gel Company
Fluorotechnics, an Australian-based fluorescence and electrophoresis tools shop, announced this week that it has successfully closed its initial public offering, raising nearly AU$8 million.  Fluorotechnics has been supported by institutional investors from Asia, Australia, and Europe, as well as by professional and retail investors.
The company is expected to list by Oct. 31, with over 24 million shares on issue and a market capitalization of over $24 million based on the offer price of $1 per share.
Fluorotechnics owns the intellectual property to a new family of fluorescent molecules, the epicocconone family of fluorophores, which are used for detection and measurement in research diagnostics and quality control.
In addition, Fluorotechnics will acquire The Gel Company in the US prior to listing. The Gel Company’s product suite enables Fluorotechnics’ fluorescent stains and non-fluorescent backed gels to operate on the installed base of equipment used in the typical proteomics workflow. The Gel Company also provides a sales and marketing base in the US from which Fluorotechnics plans to launch its new product range.
Fluorotechnics has specialized manufacturing facilities at North Ryde in Sydney and near Stuttgart in Germany. The company was established in 2002 and was spun-out of Macquarie University, which remains a shareholder.

Stem Cell Sciences Publishes Technique to Rapidly Transform Adult Cells to iPS Cells
Stem Cell Sciences has announced that a paper describing a technique for reprogramming adult mammalian cells into authentic induced pluripotent stem cells has been published this week in PLoS Biology.
This rapid new approach for generating iPS cells without using mammalian embryos uses the combination of chemical inhibitors in SCS’ Culticell iSTEM media.
The technique, which was developed by Austin Smith and his team at the University of Cambridge, features a proprietary step that forms the basis of a license agreement signed recently between SCS and Cambridge Enterprise, the technology transfer company for the University of Cambridge. SCS said that the license is a “significant addition” to its portfolio of intellectual property around the development and commercialization of stem cell technologies.
The key step, as described in the PLoS publication, occurs at the transition point between incomplete and complete reprogramming to pluripotency. Previous studies have indicated that progression through the transition point had been notoriously inefficient.
But now, via the use of chemical inhibitors of the enzymes MEK and GSK3, in combination with the cell growth promoter leukemia inhibitory factor, partly converted stem cells complete the transition efficiently and become indistinguishable from authentic embryonic stem cells.

The combination of chemical inhibitors used in this technique also forms the basis for SCS’ Culticell iSTEM media, which was launched earlier this year.

The Scan

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