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ChemGenex, Exact, OncoMethylome, NCRR, Affymetrix, Abbott, Caprion

ChemGenex Study Confirms Activity of Ceflatonin in T315I-Positive CML, Publishes Results
ChemGenex this week announced results from a study that found that the company’s lead compound, Ceflatonin (homoharringtonine, HHT), had a positive impact against Gleevec-resistant, chronic myeloid leukemia associated with the T315I Bcr-Abl mutation.
Studies show that the T315I mutation confers resistance against three oncologics: Gleevec (imatinib mesylate), and second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors Sprycel (dasatinib) and AMN107 (nilotinib). The results from the studies were published in the latest issues of Nature and Leukemia.
“The recent publications indicate that the incidence of T315I-associated resistance is increasing and confirm that this mutation is likely to become the prevalent mutation in those who fail tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy,” ChemGenex said in a statement.
In the publications, the study authors reported results from one study in which a Gleevec-resistant CML patient with the T315I Bcr-Abl mutation experienced a 50 percent reduction of T315I Bcr-Abl levels within 2.5 months of treatment initiation, and the complete disappearance of the mutation within 5.5 months of treatment. “Complete hematological response was achieved after three cycles of therapy,” ChemGenex said.
The results, the study authors believe, suggest “a particular sensitivity’ of the T315I mutation to Ceflatonin. This drug “may provide an alternative therapeutic treatment option for CML patients with the T315I mutation, for whom therapies have been previously lacking,” the study authors said.
While there were some hematologic toxicities, including neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and anemia, associated with Ceflatonin, study authors said that these adverse reactions were “easy to manage.”
ChemGenex is currently studying Ceflatonin in two clinical studies to support its New Drug Application to the FDA. The first study is in Gleevec-resistant patients with the T315I point mutation and the second study is in CML patients who are resistant or intolerant to treatment with two or more tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Exact, OncoMethylome Pen Two-Part Deal to Sell CRC-Screening Tests, Services in Europe, N. America
OncoMethylome Sciences and Exact Sciences said this week they plan to advance the sale of stool-based colorectal cancer-screening technologies through service labs in Europe and North America. 
The agreement calls for Exact to grant OncoMethylome non-exclusive rights to its DNA-stabilization, -isolation, and -extraction technology for stool-based CRC-screening tests in Europe.
In exchange, OncoMethylome will pay royalties to Exact based on sales.
Separately, OncoMethylome will sell reagents to Exact, which may use them in stool-based CRC screening services in North America.
The reagents will enable Exact to detect methylation at certain DNA markers using MSP technology. The terms of the agreement also call for OncoMethylome to sell reagents to Exact’s commercial partners, subject to their negotiation with OncoMethylome.
Further financial details of the license and supply agreements were not disclosed. 

NCRR Grants Six Academic Centers $7M to Help Buy Tools for Genomic, Proteomic Research
The National Center for Research Resources has spent more than $7 million to help six US academic centers buy high-end instruments, including mass spectrometers and sequencers for genomics and proteomics research, the NCRR said this week.
The awards are part of $21 million in grants the NCRR is distributing to 14 academic centers in the US under the High-End Instrumentation grant program. In order to receive the HEI grants, which are limited to equipment costing between $750,000 and $2 million, institutions must have three or more NIH-funded investigators involved in research that required the equipment. 
Awards for genomic and proteomic technologies include:
  • $928,365 for Johns Hopkins University to buy a hybrid linear ion-trap mass spectrometer to help it study ischemia and hypoxia, and “networks and pathways of lysine modifications and the structural analysis of carbohydrates.” 
  • Yale University has received $1.2 million to purchase DNA sequencing/genotyping technologies to help it study the genomics of epilepsy, psychiatric disorders, autism, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer. 
  • The University of Arizona was granted $924,995 to buy a hybrid quadrupole Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer with high-throughput, high-resolution, and high-mass accuracy and equipped with electron capture dissociation and infrared multiphoton dissociation. The researchers will use the technology to study proteins and protein complexes, post-translational protein modifications, polyamines important in colorectal cancer, and other projects.
  • The Health Sciences Center at the University of Colorado at Denver received a $1.1 million grant to buy a linear ion trap-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer for cancer studies and other research. 
  • The School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Connecticut obtained a $2 million grant to buy an 800 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer for studies involving “proteins that participate in repair at sites of DNA damage,” “proteins that function as tumor suppressors and their mutants,” and “enzymes involved in antibiotic resistance.” 
  • The University of Washington received a $1 million grant to acquire a pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance/X-band electron nuclear double resonance spectrometer to help study enzyme function, structural proteins, and proteins at DNA and RNA interfaces. 
An NCRR spokesperson said the grants were disbursed at the end of May.
Additional information about the current HEI program can be found here.

South Korea to Use Affymetrix Arrays in Large Genome-Wide Association Study
The South Korean government will use Affymetrix’s microarray technology in a large human genome-wide association study to identify genetic causes of “lifestyle-related” complex diseases that are prevalent in the country, the firm said this week.
The Korean Association Resource project, also known as KARE, is commissioned by Korea’s National Institute of Health and its Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Affy said.
The project will use Affy’s SNP Array 5.0 to generate genotypes from more than 10,000 human samples in order to discover genes that are associated with adverse drug responses or other complex disorders.
It “will enable us to uncover the genes associated with diseases such as metabolic syndrome that affect many individuals in Korea," said Bermseok Oh, chief of the KNIH’s Division of Structural and Functional Genomics.
Affy said KARE will make the information drawn from the studies available as part of a database that may be used by other researchers.
Affy's South Korean supplier SeouLin Bioscience will provide the microarray technology and support the KNIH, and DNA Link, an Affymetrix service provider, will run the microarray research in its high-throughput lab.
“The technology will provide [KNIH] with a more unbiased and comprehensive view of genetic information relating to the Korean population," said DNA Link CEO Jong-Eun Lee.
According to Affy, the KARE project, which will use samples from the prospective epidemiological Ansan and Ansung cohorts in Korea, is comparable to the US SNP Health Association Resource project, which is also using Affymetrix technology to identify genetic variants associated with heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.
The SHARE project is currently analyzing more than 9,000 samples collected by the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Boston University for the Framingham Heart Study.

Abbott, Caprion Extend Cancer Antibody Partnership
Abbott last week said it has extended a research partnership with Caprion Proteomics to identify and use cancer antibody targets.
The agreement grants Abbott exclusive rights for up to two years to 10 lung cancer targets that Caprion found.
The new agreement extends an alliance the companies struck three years ago in which Abbott and Caprion used Caprion’s CellCarta proteomics platform to evaluate cell-surface drug targets by comparing plasma membrane proteins in normal tissues and cancer tissues.
Specific financial terms of the agreement were not released.
“From day one, the partnership with Caprion has resulted in a series of potential therapeutic antibody targets,” Abbott divisional vice president Stephen Fesik said in a statement.
The new agreement will grant more time to wrap up pre-clinical evaluation of the 10 targets Abbott chose, Fesik added.

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The Scan

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