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Prolexys Pharmaceuticals and Columbia U, BD Biosciences, StemCell Technologies and WARF, and Molecular Devices

Prolexys and Columbia Publish Study On Erastin Mechanism of Action
Prolexys Pharmaceuticals and Columbia University this week announced a publication describing the properties of erastin, a selective small-molecule anti-tumor agent.
Prolexys and Columbia applied Prolexys’ chemi-proteomics technology to understand erastin’s mechanism of action. They found that erastin binds to mitochondrial voltage-dependent anion channels — a novel target for anti-cancer drugs.
Their results were published in the June 14 issue of Nature.
According to the investigators, knock-down of VDAC2 and VDAC3 gene expression causes resistance to erastin, implicating the involvement of these two proteins in erastin-mediated apoptosis. Treatment of cells with erastin results in VDAC protein-mediated mitochondrial dysfunction, release of oxidative species and, ultimately, apoptosis.
This process has a degree of selectivity for cells with an aberrantly active RAS pathway. In normal cells, the RAS pathway is involved in growth and differentiation of cells; however, the aberrant activation of this pathway results in uncontrolled tumor growth.

BD, StemCell Technologies Join Forces with WARF To Commercialize Cell Culture Products
BD Biosciences and StemCell Technologies, a Vancouver, Canada-based cellular sciences company, this week announced that they have each entered into a global licensing agreement with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
The agreements will allow BD Biosciences and StemCell Technologies to develop and commercialize growth media and validated tissue culture surfaces that together offer a complete cell culture environment for human embryonic stem cells.
The agreements also mark the beginning of a strategic collaboration between BD Biosciences and StemCell Technologies. The collaboration aims to provide products arising from the primary research of Tennielle Ludwig and James Thomson at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the WiCell Research Institute, a non-profit subsidiary of WARF. 

Molecular Devices Drives 54 Percent Growth for MDS Analytical Technologies
MDS last week reported that second-quarter revenue for its MDS Analytical Technologies segment, comprised of MDS Sciex and the recently acquired Molecular Devices, increased 54 percent, although organic growth for the group was 5 percent.
Total revenue for business unit for the three months ended March 31 increased to $88 million from $57 million. The majority of the increase came from Molecular Devices, which MDS purchased in March for $615 million. The company also recorded $3 million in expenses from the acquisition. 
The quarter includes six weeks of revenue from Molecular Devices, which contributed $29 million in revenue for the quarter, a 22 percent increase over revenues as a stand-alone company during its second quarter last year.
The acquisition provided MDS with Molecular Devices’ product line for the high-end cell analysis market and a sales force that MDS hopes will boost sales of its CellKey secondary screening tool.
R&D spending increased to $7 million from $1 million year over year. 
MDS said its services revenue drove growth and profitability.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.