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Iobion, De Novo Pharmaceuticals, Genbank, EMBL, DDBJ, University of North Carolina


Iobion in Co-Marketing Agreement with Affy

Stratagene subsidiary Iobion Informatics said last week that it has entered a co-marketing agreement with Affymetrix for its ArrayAssist software.

Under the agreement, Affymetrix has designated the ArrayAssist desktop application as an “Affymetrix Premier Application” — a rating based on the new Affymetrix Provider program, which the company recently launched as a way to recognize third-party software providers and extend the Affymetrix platform.

ArrayAssist is “among the first software packages to receive the Affymetrix Premier Application rating,” according to Scott Jokerst, senior product marketing manager at Affymetrix.

De Novo Licenses Skelgen Platform to Lilly

De Novo Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge, UK, said last week that it has entered into a licensing agreement with Eli Lilly for its SkelGen in silico drug design platform.

Lilly licensed the software on a non-exclusive basis for research on undisclosed targets. Financial terms of the agreement were not provided.

Last month, De Novo announced that it was halting its own in-house drug discovery activities in order to concentrate on commercializing the Skelgen technology, which uses 21 different parameters to generate molecular structures that bind to a protein’s active site [BioInform 12-15-03].

The Lilly agreement follows on De Novo’s existing licensing agreement for Skelgen with Roche, and is “precisely in line” with the company’s new strategy, according to De Novo CEO Burt Wuurman.

Honey Bee Genome Sequence Comes Online

The first draft version of the honey bee genome sequence has been deposited into Genbank, EMBL, and DDBJ, the National Human Genome Research Institute announced last week.

The sequence of Apis mellifera was assembled by a team led by Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and is based on six-fold sequence coverage. Sequencing of the honey bee genome began in early 2003. NHGRI provided about $6.9 million in funding for the project and the US Department of Agriculture contributed $750,000.

The honey bee genome contains about 300 million DNA base pairs, making it about one-tenth the size of the human genome. The honey bee is an important agricultural organism, and also serves as a model for studying human health issues including immunity, allergic reaction, antibiotic resistance, development, mental health, longevity and diseases of the X chromosome.

The new genome will also aid comparative genomics efforts, according to NHGRI. It is expected that scientists will compare the honey bee’s genome with previously sequenced insect genomes, such as the fruit fly and mosquito, as well as with DNA sequences from Africanized bee strains that have invaded many areas of the southern United States.

UNC Chapel Hill, NIEHS to Create DNA Repository for Environmental Genomics

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences said last week that they are developing the Environmental Polymorphism Registry — a voluntary DNA registry to study the link among environmental exposures, gen-etic susceptibility and human disease.

The registry will eventually include 20,000 patients at various UNC medical facilities. According to UNC Chapel Hill, it will differ from previous anonymous DNA repositories “in that patient identifiers will be maintained in coded form” — a feature that will allow scientists to contact participants at a later date for their permission to obtain additional information or invite their participation in additional studies and to offer them the option to drop out of the registry. Currently, according to the university, “no similar resources are available to the National Institutes of Health or to researchers at UNC.”

It is expected that data from these follow-up studies will help scientists identify groups of individuals with genetic polymorphisms in “environmentally sensitive” genes, which control how the human body interacts with substances from the environment, and possibly to correlate these genetic variants with clinical histories and current health status.

In a pilot study to assess the project’s feasibility. researchers requested consent from around 600 people at UNC outpatient clinics, and about 80 percent agreed to allow a portion of a blood sample drawn for other medical purposes to be used for DNA isolation and for placement in the registry depository for 25 years, the university said.


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