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Trana Discovery, Invitrogen, Applied Biosystems, Summit Corporation, Cisbio, Millipore, University of Dundee

Trana Gets $250K to Develop S. Aureus Anti-tRNA Drug
Trana Discovery this week announced plans to develop a new high-throughput screening assay capable of selectively identifying compounds that inhibit the reproduction of Staphylococcus aureus through the target pathogen’s ability to use transfer RNA in replication.
Final development and commercialization of the assay is made possible by a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan awarded to the company by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
The assay is designed to identify compounds that inhibit the essential use of tRNAArg by S. aureus. Initial experiments indicate that an assay which uses a fluorescein-labeled tRNAArg oligonucleotide as the tool and the S. aureus ribosome as the target is feasible, and can be scaled to a high-throughput format. 
Several biotechnology resources located in Research Triangle Park, NC, will participate in the development of the assay. The current plan includes microbiological testing by the department of microbiology at North Carolina State University; cytotoxicity screening by RTI International; and development of the molecular models by the medicinal chemistry division of the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy. In addition, the high-throughput screening center at Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Ala., will conduct compound screening work following optimization of the assay and validation of the HTS format.
Trana expects to complete the S. aureus HTS project in approximately six months.

Invitrogen Files Formal Merger Notification with EU Authorities
Invitrogen has filed a formal notification with the European Commission regarding its pending $6.7 billion acquisition of Applied Biosystems, the firm said this week.
The commission has 25 days business following the notification to respond to the filing, said Invitrogen. US regulatory authorities have already cleared the merger.
Invitrogen and ABI will hold a special meeting of shareholders next week to vote on the proposed deal. The firms expect to close the deal next month.

Summit, Lilly Enter Ink TB Drug Co-Development Deal 
Summit said this week that it has entered into a co-development agreement for its early stage tuberculosis program with the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative, a public-private partnership created by Eli Lilly to discover and develop TB drug candidates. 
Under the terms of the agreement, the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative will have an exclusive license to the compounds discovered by Summit in the developing world, and will be responsible for future research and development costs. Summit retains all rights to these compounds for the treatment of TB and all other indications, and will have access to any data generated during the course of the program.  

Spurred By Growth, Cisbio US Moves to Bigger Facility
Cisbio Bioassays said this week that its US subsidiary, Cisbio US, has moved to a new, expanded facility in Bedford, Mass. The space features a larger laboratory designed to accommodate the growing demand for its custom assay development and labeling services from US-based clients, the company said.
According to the company, the move reflects Cisbio US’s growth over the past two years, fueled in part by the April 2008 launch of its terbium cryptate-based, second-generation homogeneous time-resolved fluorescence technology.
Now occupying 10,000 square feet of space, Cisbio US has doubled its laboratory capacity, built a cell culture facility, and added two assay development scientists to its staff.
The expanded space will also enable Cisbio US to welcome customers on-site for HTRF technology training, theory, and lectures, all of which are features of its service and support programs.       

Millipore Extends Cell Signaling Tools Deal with University of Dundee
Millipore and the University of Dundee have signed a five-year extension of an exclusive license agreement to market cell signaling materials for research applications.
The collaboration began in 1995 between the university and Upstate Biotechnology, which is now part of Millipore. Research tools derived from the collaboration will be sold to researchers worldwide by Millipore, which already sells reagents derived from the collaboration as part of its KinaseProfiler and PhosphataseProfiler selectivity screening services.
As part of the extended license, Millipore will have access to new research products developed by researchers at the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit, which, in collaboration with the University of Dundee, has developed specific kinase and phosphatase methods and reagents for studying cell signaling.

Financial terms of the licensing pact were not disclosed.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.