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University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, Furukawa Electric, MultiCell Technologies, Inpharmatica and Proctor and Gamble, and Pharmacopeia and Accelrys


U Michigan Life Sciences Institute Establishes Chemical Genomics, Structural Biology Centers

The University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute announced on May 14 the opening of two new centers of collaboration: The Center for Chemical Genomics and the Center for Structural Biology.

The announcement came during the LSI’s grand opening convocation. According to Karl Bates, LSI’s director of communications, CCG’s primary focus will be on high-throughput screening of small molecules that perturb cellular function, “not so much for discovering drug candidates, but more to develop basic experimental tools to help look at cell physiology.”

The center will employ both biochemical and cell-based assays, but CCG director David Sherman told Inside Bioassays that “there is more interest in developing methods for looking at whole cellular function.”

Sherman also said that instrumentation will initially consist of robotic equipment for combinatorial chemistry, sample handling, and extraction, as well as high-throughput screening platforms such as fluorescence plate readers. He added that CCG plans to “diversify and increase its screening and detection capabilities” in the future.

The CSB’s focus will be to determine the shape and interactions of biological molecules, particularly proteins. It will consist primarily of a protein production facility and an X-ray crystallography lab.

The LSI, created in 1999 on the recommendation of the University of Michigan Life Sciences Commission, spans a multitude of biological disciplines and is both a core research facility for Michigan researchers and a collaborative center for other academic institutions.

The institute is currently recruiting researchers with a background in biology, engineering, and mathematics, with the ultimate goal of attracting 25 to 30 faculty members. Currently, the institute has 13 faculty members, six of which were originally recruited from U. Michigan faculty a little over a year ago, according to Bates.

Furukawa Develops Fiber-Optic Flow Cytometer

Furukawa Electric of Tokyo said on May 17 that it has developed a flow cytometer that uses an optical fiber. The company claimed that the instrument is the first of its kind.

According to an official company statement, the cytometer is equipped with a blue laser diode, and “can detect extremely weak fluorescent signals.”

The company unveiled the cytometer at Japan’s 3rd International Bio Expo, held May 19-21 in Tokyo. In addition, the company said it exhibited a device that can “separate, measure, and dispense single cells automatically.”

According to Furukawa’s website, the company has traditionally produced optical instrumentation for the telecommunications market, and has only recently expanded its product portfolio into biological and medical instrumentation.

MultiCell Warns of Unauthorized Listing on German Stock Exchange

MultiCell Technologies, which provides hepatic and other cell lines for cell-based drug screening assays, said on May 21 that it was one of more than 200 publicly traded US companies whose stock was listed on the Berlin-Bremer Stock Exchange without the company’s knowledge, consent, or authorization.

MultiCell said that shares traded on the Berlin-Bremer Stock Exchange or any other foreign exchange are not recognized by the company, and that investors interested in purchasing stock should purchase shares from authorized broker-dealers and shares listed on the NASDAQ Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board.

Inpharmatica Signs Drug Discovery Deal With Proctor and Gamble

Inpharmatica said on May 18 that it has signed a drug discovery agreement with Proctor and Gamble Pharmaceuticals.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will develop computational structure models and identify chemotypes for families of human G-protein coupled receptors, a major target in drug development. P&GP will find a research program at Inpharmatica and pay additional license fees to use discoveries arising from the collaboration, Inpharmatica said.

Inpharmatica will use elements of its PharmaCarta drug discovery platform in the collaboration, the company said.

Pharmacopeia Changes Name to Accelrys

Pharmacopeia has changed its name to Accelrys, the company said on May 20.

Stockholders approved the name change on May 11 (see Inside Bioassays, 5/11/2004). After spinning off its drug discovery business, Accelrys is now solely focused on delivering scientific software to the life science and materials research industries.

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