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Phylonix, Xcellsyz and Boehringer Ingelheim, Prolysis and Essential Science, ChemBridge Research Laboratories and Eisai, and Trimeris and Array BioPharma

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Phylonix Wins NIH Grant for Zebrafish Assays

Phylonix of Cambridge, Mass., said last week that it has received a $993,463 Phase II SBIR grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop zebrafish apoptosis assays for drug screening.

According to an official company statement, Phylonix will be using dye-based assays to identify apoptotic cells in living zebrafish embryos, and will incorporate an automated liquid-handling workstation and microplate reader for high-throughput applications. A goal of the assays would be to aid in the development of compounds to modulate apoptosis, which plays an important part in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, AIDS, autoimmunity, and degenerative diseases, the company said.

Although embryos have previously been used as an alternative to cell-based assays, they have primarily been invertebrate embryos. Zebrafish physiology is more closely related to that of humans, making assay results more relevant to the development of human drugs, the company said.

Phylonix also said that zebrafish embryos have several additional advantages in screening assays, such as their small size, transparency, ability to reproduce quickly, and ease of maintenance. In addition, the company expects each assay to cost less than $100.


Xcellsyz Licenses Cell Lines to Boehringer Ingelheim

Xcellsyz said yesterday that will license immortalized human skeletal cells to Boehringer Ingelheim for “evaluation and drug discovery research,” according to an official company statement. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The specific cell lines that the company will be licensing are produced using a proprietary technology that allows cells to proliferate while maintaining the ability to revert back to their original phenotypes, the company said.

The company, based in Newcastle, UK, is focused on developing drugs for diabetes and obesity using cell-based technology. It also licenses cell lines and assay services to pharmaceutical companies for target discovery and validation, toxicity testing, and drug metabolism studies.


Prolysis Collaborates With Essential Science on Antibiotic Screening

Prolysis of Oxford, UK, announced yesterday that it is collaborating with Essential Science to commercialize Prolysis’ platform for bacterial cell-based screening of antibiotic compounds.

Essential Science will provide business development support to Prolysis with the goal of establishing relationships in the areas of “library screening, in-licensing of development candidates, out-licensing of Prolysis’ technologies, and development of new applications,” the companies said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Prolysis’ technology is based on the work of Jeff Errington, a professor at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford. The company said it has developed five proprietary whole-cell bacterial assays that target critical pathways to ensure therapeutics can enter the cell.


ChemBridge Laboratories Reaches Milestone in Eisai Drug Discovery Deal

ChemBridge Research Laboratories of San Diego said last week that it has achieved a milestone in its drug discovery collaboration with Eisai.

The goal of the collaboration, which the companies established in April 2002 and amended in Dec. 2003, is to discover compounds against an undisclosed G-protein coupled receptor. The nomination of the milestone results in CRL providing further support by facilitating the optimization of lead molecules, the company said. Further financial details were not disclosed.


Trimeris and Array BioPharma Extend Drug Discovery Agreement

Trimeris of Durham, N.C., and Array BioPharma, of Boulder, Col., said last week that they have renewed an agreement to discover small molecule entry inhibitors directed against HIV.

As part of the renewed agreement, which was originally established in August 2001, Trimeris will screen compounds created by Array for HIV entry inhibitor targets. Array will receive research funding, milestone payments, and royalties based on the success of the program, the companies said.

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.