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GeneGo, US Food and Drug Administration, Cellumen, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, Expression Pathology, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, NeoGenomics, Response Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Clinical Data

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GeneGo to Use NCI SBIR Grant to Work with FDA on Cancer and Nutrition Studies
 
GeneGo said this week that it has received a grant of an undisclosed sum from the National Cancer Institute that it will use to work with the US Food and Drug Administration to develop technology for studying nutrition and cancer causes and prevention.
 
The company said it will use the one-year Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant to collaborate with Jim Kaput, director of FDA’s Personalized Nutrition and Medicine program.
 
The GeneGo program will include a manually curated nutrition database, an ‘omics data repository, and advanced search and statistical modeling technology.
 
"For the last 60 years, it has been well established that cancer and nutrition are intrinsically connected," but that knowledge has been scattered across “thousands of sources” and is hard to find, GeneGo CEO Yuri Nikolsky said in a statement. “We will assemble the first specialized database on the topic and develop automated tools for data analysis.”
 

 
Cellumen Partners with Alzheimer's Foundation on Disease Modeling Systems
 
Cellumen will partner with the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation to develop a cellular model that could be used in Alzheimer’s treatments, the company said this week.
 
Pittsburgh-based Cellumen plans to use its Cellular Systems Biology technology to develop a panel of assays and biosensors of protein interactions in order to find targets and pathways involved in the disease. This technology could allow researchers to conduct more clinically relevant drug screening, the company believes.
 
“We have the opportunity to revolutionize the treatment of this complex disease by providing pharmaceutical companies with the necessary tools to identify novel chemical modulators of the AD systems biology,” Cellumen CEO Lansing Taylor said in a statement.
 

 
EPI in Canadian Breast Cancer Biomarker Collaboration
 
Expression Pathology will collaborate with the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Alberta, Canada, to identify breast cancer metastasis biomarkers, EPI said this week.
 
The project is being funded with CAD$300,000 ($288,000) from the Alberta Cancer Board.
 
EPI said it will use its tissue proteomics technologies to study archived formalin-fixed breast cancer tissue samples taken from patients treated at the cancer center. The company’s Liquid Tissue sample preparation and Director laser microdissection technologies will enable in-depth mass spectrometry analysis, the firm said.
 
“Our project with EPI will strive to identify proteins in primary tumor tissue that may serve as biomarkers of the early stages of metastasis at the molecular level,” Anthony Magliocco, director of pathology at the center and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, said in a statement.
 
“Our aim is to develop valuable tissue protein assays that can aid patient treatment decisions and to identify new therapeutic targets and companion diagnostics to those targets,” said EPI CEO Casimir Eitner in a statement.
 

 
NeoGenomics to Offer Response Genetics' Colorectal, Lung Cancer Tests
 
Clinical lab services company NeoGenomics will offer two of Response Genetics’ tests, one for colon cancer and another for lung cancer, the companies said this week.
 
NeoGenomics will exclusively offer the ResponseDX: Colon test for colorectal cancer and the ResponseDX: Lung test for non-small-cell lung cancer through its US sales force, the companies said.
 
All of the tests contracted under the agreement will be performed through Response Genetics’ CLIA-certified lab. These PCR-based tests are aimed at helping doctors make treatment decisions for patients with colorectal and lung cancer.
 
The ResponseDX panels include analysis of the KRAS mutation, gene expression profiling of RRM1, and up to three other patent-protected genes, including ERCC1, TS, and EGFR.
 
The KRAS mutation is used as a predictor of whether patients will respond to the common treatment regimens for these types of cancers. Gene expression results from the panels are used to help oncologists choose between several standard chemotherapy regimens.
 
Response Genetics also noted that it has formed a specialized sales team to market the ResponseDX tests.
 
NeoGenomics Chief Scientific Officer Robert Gasparini said the joint sales strategy “will allow us to establish new accounts, differentiate our services, and increase our footprint in the expanding field of molecular cancer genetics.”
 
Ft. Myers, Fla.-based NeoGenomics’ testing services include cytogenetics, fluorescence in situ hybridization, flow cytometry, morphology studies, anatomic pathology, and molecular genetic testing.
 

 
NCI to Fund Molecular Methods in Cancer Research
The National Cancer Institute will fund two-year grants with up to $275,000 to researchers developing new molecular methods for cancer detection, diagnosis, and prognosis.
 
NCI said it plans to fund studies focused on methods of detecting specific cancer characteristics and which can be used in clinical management of cancer patients or individuals who are at risk of developing cancer.
 
NCI has not yet determined how many of the grants it will award, and requests may not exceed $200,000 in one single year.
 
The research should focus on seeking molecular and cellular differences between tumors, pre-malignant, or normal tissues, according to NCI. The researchers should determine the clinical translational significance of differences in tumors and normal tissues in order to answer questions about detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, it said in the program announcement.
 
The program is sponsored by the Divisions of Cancer Treatment, Cancer Diagnosis, and Cancer Prevention.
 
The Cancer Diagnosis Program supports research into clinical tests that can help improve cancer diagnosis, predict how tumors will respond to therapy, and monitor the recurrence of cancer. In particular, NCI is seeking new methods for the classification and staging of cancer as well as methods to clarify the influence of genetic mutations on the course of the disease.
 
The Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program will aim to fund correlative studies relevant to clinical studies, including pharmacogenetic studies, analyses of predictive markers, studies of drug resistance, and immune system response.
 
The Cancer Biomarkers Research Group supports studies that address early-stage cancer development and initial validation of genetic and molecular biomarkers that can be used to help predict, detect, or prevent cancer.
 
More information about the grants program is available here.
 

 
Clinical Data Raises $25M in Private Placement
 
Clinical Data has raised $25 million through the private placement of 1,514,922 shares of newly issued common stock to affiliates of Randal Kirk, chairman of the Newton, Mass.-based firm’s board of directors.
 
The company said that the purchase price was $16.44 per share, which was its closing price on Sept. 26, the last day of trading prior to the financing announcement, plus $.0625 per share, and warrants to purchase an additional 757,461 shares of common stock at $16.44 per share.
 

The publicly traded firm said that it would use the funds for general working capital purposes.

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