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Roche, Compugen, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, Entelos, NIH, Applied Biosystems, Mettler Toledo, Ocimum Biosolutions, Gene Logic, Héma-Québec, Génome Québec, ACE BioSciences, CLC Bio

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Roche Taps Compugen’s GeneVa Platform for RA Drug-Response Studies
 
Compugen said this week that it has signed a collaboration with Roche to use its computational platform to search for biomarkers that could help predict patient responses to drugs aimed at treating rheumatoid arthritis.
 
The platform, called GeneVa, includes a database of around 200,000 non-SNP genetic variations along with algorithms and other computational biology tools.
 
Compugen said it will use the platform to investigate DNA samples for markers that could predict response or non-response to selected drugs Roche intends to develop.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 

 
J&J Pharma R&D Taps Entelos for In Silico Studies of Type-2 Diabetes Drugs
 
Entelos said this week that it has signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development to use its predictive computer models of human physiology to study new therapies for type-2 diabetes.
 
Under the agreement, Entelos will use its in silico “virtual patients” to discover and evaluate therapies for the disease.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 
Entelos CEO James Karis said the agreement is part of the company's strategy to offer its predictive services "in chronic disease areas where multiple drugs, treatment choices, and large differences between patients make it difficult for health-care providers to select the best treatments."
 
Entelos has ongoing internal drug programs for rheumatoid arthritis and women's health. It is also developing an oncology model and is collaborating with the US Food and Drug Administration to develop a model of drug-induced liver injury.
 

 
NIH Launches Human Microbiome Project, Seeks Computational Tools
 
The National Institutes of Health this week officially launched its Human Microbiome Project, a five year, $115 million endeavor to study the colonies of microbes that inhabit the human body and learn how they affect human health and disease.
 
Part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, the program initially will sequence the genomes of 600 microbes, eventually creating a database of 1,000 microbial genomes that will serve as a reference for investigators interested in understanding the trillions of microorganisms dwelling in humans.
 
Samples for the project will be taken from five body regions including the digestive tract, mouth, skin, nose, and female urogenital tract, which may contain diverse microbial communities.
 
The announcement followed several grant announcements that NIH issued last week seeking informatics tools and other technologies that are expected to support the project.
 
One set of grants will fund the creation of a Data Analysis and Coordination Center for the Human Microbiome Project, a portal that will provide access to the data and tools created by the project.
 
Total funding for the DACC award is more than $2 million for each of five years.
 
Another set of grants will provide a total of around $1.5 million to support the development of computational tools that can be used to analyze and interpret data generated in the HMP.
 
NIH has issued two separate RFAs for this initiative under its R01 and R21 award mechanisms. NIH expects to award between one and four R01 grants of up to three years and between two and four R21 grants for up to two years.
 
Applications for all of the HMP grants are due Feb. 15, 2008.  
 

 
ABI, Mettler Toledo to Integrate LIMS Software
 
Applied Biosystems and Mettler Toledo said this week that they have integrated their lab information-management systems and software in an effort to offer researchers the ability to manage data between instruments.
 
Mettler Toledo, based in Greifensee, Switzerland, makes weighing instruments for drug development and other biological and chemical research areas.
 
Under the partnership, ABI will market, install, and maintain the integrated products, which include its SQL*LIMS and Mettler Toledo’s LabX data-management software.
 
ABI said it expects the integrated systems to help researchers manage data more efficiently and save time and costs in day-to-day laboratory processes.
 

 
Ocimum Gets Up to $17M in VC Cash, Closes Purchase of Gene Logic’s Genomics Business
 
Ocimum Biosolutions this week landed an private-equity investment of up to $17 million and closed its acquisition of Gene Logic’s genomics division.
 
The capital investment came from Kubera Cross Border Fund and affiliates of Kubera Partners, which manages KUBC.
 
Ocimum said that the acquired genomics business will retain the Gene Logic name and will continue operating out of Gaithersburg, Md.
 
Ocimum agreed in October to pay $10 million for the business, including $7 million up front and $3 million in 18 months.
 
Including the newly acquired Maryland office, Ocimum now has operations in Indianapolis, the Netherlands, and India.
 

 
Québec Creates Genomic Databank for Blood Transfusion Safety
 
Two non-profit organizations in Québec said this week that they have created a database of genomic information of about 22,000 blood donors in order to help make transfusions safe for patients in the Canadian province.
 
The partners, Héma-Québec and Génome Québec, have created a database that will help locate compatible blood more easily for patients who are in need of transfusions of specific blood profiles.
 
Genome Québec provided the genotyping to develop the platform, and the project included the efforts of the Montreal Heart Institute Pharmacogenomics Center.
 

 
CLC Bio to Build Custom Bioinformatics Platform for ACE BioSciences; Supply Software for Indian Universities
 
ACE BioSciences has tapped CLC Bio to develop a customized bioinformatics platform that will support its work in vaccine target discovery and validation, CLC Bio said this week.
 
Separately, the company announced that it had signed an agreement to provide researchers at grad schools in India access to its software in genomics research programs.
 
Under the terms of the agreement with ACE BioSciences, CLC Bio will upgrade the company’s current bioinformatics platform to ensure that the firm can compare, rank, and prioritize potential vaccine targets.
 
The solution will include several of CLC Bio’s workbenches for DNA, RNA, and protein sequence analysis, as well as customized modules that will be proprietary for ACE BioSciences
 
Under the second agreement, CLC Bio signed a memorandum of understanding with Andhra University that will give the university and 25 affiliated post-graduate colleges access to the company’s CLC Combined Workbench sequence analysis software.
 
The company said it will also provide training and customized education materials under the agreement.
 
The software implementation and related educational solutions will be provided by CLC Bio’s branch in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

Filed under

The Scan

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J&J CSO to Step Down

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Science Papers Present Proteo-Genomic Map of Human Health, Brain Tumor Target, Tool to Infer CNVs

In Science this week: gene-protein-disease map, epigenomic and transcriptomic approach highlights potential therapeutic target for gliomas, and more