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Lion Bioscience, Eidogen, Alternative Splicing Database, Colorado Institute of Technology

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Lion to Lay off 50 in ‘Final Phase’ of Restructuring

Lion Bioscience said last week that it plans to lay off an additional 50 staff by the end of July, reducing its total headcount to 310.

The staff reduction wraps up a streamlining effort that the company began following its acquisition of NetGenics in January 2002, when its staff peaked at around 580 employees.

In finishing what the company described as “the final phase of its restructuring and integration of the businesses acquired in previous years,” Lion said it plans to close its Cleveland, Ohio, site — the former headquarters of NetGenics — by June 30. The company will also move development of its predictive ADME technology Idea pkExpress to San Diego, and focus development of its Lead Engine and Target Engine in Heidelberg, Germany, where its software testing and quality assurance programs will also be housed.

In addition, Rudy Potenzone, CEO of the company’s US operations, has stepped down. “The decision to terminate was mutual and amicable between Lion and Rudy,” said a Lion spokeswoman via e-mail. Joseph Donahue, appointed to the position of president of US operations last week, will carry on Potenzone’s responsibilities.

Lion also posted its fourth-quarter revenues for its 2002/2003 fiscal year last week. It’s revenues for the quarter ended March 31 totaled €7.7 million ($8.8 million) for the quarter, down from €10.6 million for the year-ago period.

The company also reported a drop in total expenses to €21.6 million, from €24.0 million for the fourth quarter of last year.

At the end of March, Lion had €72.9 million in cash and cash equivalents, compared to €124.0 million last year.

Lion predicted that its revenues will grow to €40 million for the 2003/2004 fiscal year, up from €30 million for the 2002/2003 fiscal year. This growth will be driven, according to the company, by sales of the DiscoveryCenter integration platform and Target Engine, “as well as further penetration of the company’s existing products and new partnerships.”

 

Eidogen Models SARS Coronavirus Protease for PDB

Eidogen, a Pasadena, Calif.-based biotech company, said last week that it has used its computational drug discovery platform to model a high-resolution 3D structure of a protease enzyme from the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The company has deposited the structure in the Protein Data Bank (www.rcsb.org) under PDB ID number 1PA5. Eidogen expects the structure to facilitate the development of protease inhibitors to combat the spread of SARS.

Researchers at the company built the model structure for the SARS protease based on its homology to the known coronavirus protease structure from Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus (PDB ID: 1LVO). The company’s researchers also used their comparative protein structure informatics platform to compare the SARS protease with the structure of a protease from human rhinovirus (PDB ID: 1CQQ) to detect “significant similarities in the substrate binding sites.”

 

European Consortium Launches Alternative Splicing Database Project

Last week, seven European research organizations launched the Alternative Splicing Database (ASD) project, an initiative to create a database of alternatively spliced human genes.

The ASD consortium includes researchers from the University of Erlangen-Nurenberg; the European Molecular Biological Laboratory; Spain’s Institut Municipal d’Investigacio Medica and Centre de Regulació Genòmica; ExonHit Therapeutics; the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and the European Bioinformatics Institute.

The three-year ASD project is funded under Europe’s Fifth Framework Program. Data from the scientific literature on alternative exons from human, mouse, Drosophila, and rat will be collected and integrated into a user-friendly database. The consortium also plans to develop DNA microarrays that contain cDNAs of all the splicing regulatory proteins and their isoforms, as well as chips that incorporate a number of disease-relevant genomic signatures for cancer, neurodegeneration, and infertility for diagnostic purposes.

 

CIT Issues Equipment Proposals

The Colorado Institute of Technology (CIT) last week issued a request for proposals for equipment to support Colorado universities and colleges.

CIT said that areas of particular interest include bioinformatics, as well as global telecommunications, enterprise systems, digital media, and homeland security.

Proposals will be accepted in two phases, with due dates of August 15, 2003, and February 15, 2004.

A copy of the call for proposals is available at http://www.coloradoit.org/edu/proposals.asp.

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