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Althea Technologies, Australian Genome Research Facility and NimbleGen Systems, MacroGenics, CombiMatrix and Science Applications International, Yeast Systems Biology Network, and NIH

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Althea Wins $100K SBIR Grant to Develop Assays for Pediatric Cancers

Althea Technologies has received a $100,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute to help develop validated, quantitative gene-expression assays for multiple pediatric cancers.

The assays are being translated and validated to high-throughput assays using Althea’s eXpress Profiling technology. The platform is a high-throughput PCR-based gene-expression analysis technique that can be used to quantitate the gene expression values of 20 to 35 genes in a single PCR reaction.

Research by Javed Khan, an oncologist at the NCI, will serve as the basis for the multiplexed PCR assays.


Australian Genome Research Facility to Use NimbleGen’s Microarray Technology

The Australian Genome Research Facility will use microarray technology from NimbleGen Systems, the Madison, Wis.-based company said last week.

Joining NimbleGen’s “Custom Microarray Core Facility” program, AGRF will offer its researchers customized arrays produced with NimbleGen’s maskless array synthesizer technology.

AGRF, which has operations in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Adelaide, already has platforms from Affymetrix, Sequenom, and Applied Biosystems in place.


MacroGenics Closes $30.5M Series B VC Round

MacroGenics, a genomics- and proteomics-tools company co-founded by Lee Hood and Ruedi Aebersold, has collected $30.5 million in a Series B round of private-equity financing, the company said last week.

Alta Partners and TPG Ventures led the financing, which included investments by Mithra Group, Red Abbey Venture Partners, Emerging Technology Partners, and Series A shareholders InterWest Partners, MPM Capital, OrbiMed, Cogene BioTech Ventures, Vivo Ventures, and Hunt Ventures.

MacroGenics, which is also trying to develop antibodies and vaccines to treat cancer, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases, will use the cash to support the clinical development of certain drug candidates and “recent in-licensed opportunities in infectious diseases.” The company was founded in 2000.


CombiMatrix and SAIC to Collaborate on Biothreat Microarray Technology

CombiMatrix and Science Applications International last week announced a collaboration to develop microarray technology for identification of biothreat organisms.

The companies will apply some of the US Department of Defense funding they each have in hand for the collaboration, CombiMatrix said in a statement. Further financial details were not disclosed.

CombiMatrix, the life-sciences division of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Acacia Research, will supply its microarray platform to the collaboration while San Diego-based SAIC, an information technology supplier, will apply its suite of genomic assays and data-mining tools.


International Consortium Creates Yeast Systems Biology Network

An international consortium of researchers has formed the Yeast Systems Biology Network, a coordinated effort to integrate experimental and computational studies of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

YSBN, which was first formed over the summer, held a workshop meeting after the main International Conference on Systems Biology, held last week in Germany. The effort’s primary objective is to create a web-based resource to which the research community can contribute data and mathematical models. “The vision is to generate reference models for all cellular processes of budding yeast,” according to a brochure distributed at the conference.

YSBN co-founder Hiroaki Kitano told BioInform, Pharmacogenomics Reporter’s sister publication, that the effort isn’t seeking funding only one source, but is more of a way for the yeast systems biology community “to work on the science, and agree upon the issues and some standards.” Kitano said that the YSBN will coordinate its efforts with the Saccharomyces Genome Database.


NIH Roadmap Funds Proteomics, Bioinformatics Projects with $3.85M

The NIH has awarded two grants totaling $3.85 million to multi-institutional proteomics and bioinformatics initiatives under its Roadmap program, Rutgers University said this week.

A $2 million, five-year training grant goes to the BioMaPS Institute for Quantitative Biology at Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium, and the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics/Protein Data Bank. It will be used to train graduate students and postdocs in proteomics.

The Computational Center for Biomolecular Complexes, a virtual research initiative involving scientists at Rutgers, Baylor College of Medicine, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of Texas at Austin, have won $1.85 million to develop workshops, undertake pilot studies, and develop new computational systems to study large molecular complexes.

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