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ABI, Cellzome, Novartis, Mitsui, Correlogic, Genomax, Ariadne, Genetix, Caprion, Vertex, Millipore, Matritech, ProteinOne, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, HistoRx, Xencor, Agilent, Geneva Bioinformatics

ABI to Help Create Proteomics Research Facility in Germany
Applied Biosystems, Cenix BioScience and the Biotechnology Center of Dresden University this week announced a collaboration to create a joint facility to bring together functional genomics and proteomics in an effort to push along drug discovery.
The German government through the BioChance Plus grant program is issuing €1.2 million ($1.5 million) to support the effort. No further financial details were disclosed.
In a statement, the parties said the two-year project will allow scientists to develop and deliver research tools and methodologies that will “enable more detailed and probative analyses of the cellular functions of therapeutically relevant genes.”
The project will analyze gene function and drug action through cellular phenotyping. To fully understand gene function, phenotypes need to be examined on the protein level, but broad proteome-level profiling has been limited, the parties said.
“The present project will seek to overcome these limitations by developing broad quantitative surveys of protein levels in RNAi- and drug-treated cells using antibody-independent, mass spectrometry-based analyses,” they said.
ABI will contribute technologies including its mass spectrometry systems, iTraq labeling reagents, customized TaqMan gene expression assays and, its Ambion range of RNAi knock-down reagents to the project. Its efforts will be coordinated from its Science Center Europe in Darmstadt, Germany.

Cellzome Extends Research Agreement with Novartis
Cellzome and Novartis have extended their research collaboration, originally reached in 2004, to June 30, 2008, Cellzome said this week.
Financial details of the extension were not disclosed.
Under the agreement, Cellzome will continue applying its proprietary technology to identify tractable therapeutic targets in several disease-relevant pathways; identify pharmacological targets; and identify potential off-target effects of active Novartis compounds. Cellzome is using its chemical proteomics expertise to identify the role of active Novartis compounds in disease and potential side-effects, it said in a statement.
The original agreement has led to novel drug-discovery projects, Cellzome said.

Mitsui Provides Additional Funding to Correlogic, Collaborates on Cancer Dx Tests
Correlogic Systems said this week that Mitsui has made a second tranche investment into the company and that the two have entered into a research collaboration to develop cancer diagnostic tests.
Financial details of the investment and collaboration were not disclosed.
Mitsui made its initial investment in Correlogic in 2004 and agreed to “explore the application of Correlogic’s pattern recognition approach and technology to the detection of ovarian cancer in Japanese patients,” Correlogic said in a statement.
Under the auspices of Jikei University, “mini-trials” were then conducted to test Correlogic’s technology. Under the new agreement, Correlogic and Mitsui will continue developing blood tests for ovarian cancer and cancers with particular prevalence in Japan.
Quintiles Transnational Japan, that country’s largest contract pharmaceutical organization, will collect additional research samples and conduct clinical trials.

Genomax to Sell Ariadne Software in Parts of Southeast Asia
Genomax Technologies will sell and support Ariadne Genomics’ Pathway Studio software in parts of Southeast Asia under a distributor agreement announced last week.
Under the agreement, Genomax will sell and support the software in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.
The software allows researchers to retrieve pathways affected during an experiment and to identify relationships among proteins, small molecules, cell processes and treatments, and extract relevant biological interactions from scientific literature, the company said in a statement.

Genetix Raises Bid Price for Applied Imaging
Genetix raised its bid price for Applied Imaging to $3.50 per share from $3.06, Applied Imaging announced this week, after an unidentified third party made an unsolicited bid for the company.
Applied Imaging is holding a special shareholder meeting on Nov. 21 to solicit shareholder approval of the proposed deal. The companies had announced their proposed $18.3 million merger in September.

Caprion, Vertex Expand Agreement for Proteomic Technology
Caprion and Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced this week an expansion of a collaborative agreement to use Caprion’s CellCarta proteomic biomarker technology across preclinical and clinical activities conducted by Vertex.
The original collaboration was announced in March. No financial details of the new agreement were released.

Millipore Announces New Protein Fractionation Method Using Ultrafiltration
Millipore said last week it has developed a protocol for compartmentalizing protein solutions using ultrafiltration in a centrifugal mode using its Amicon Ultra centrifugal device and expertise.
In a statement, Millipore said the Amicon device limits membrane polarization while the hydrophilic microstructure of the low-binding Ultracel ultrafiltration membrane enables efficient protein separation. “This method expedites the fractionation process by minimizing process steps such as setting up columns, optimizing column flow rates, and collecting and concentrating various fractions,” Millipore said.

Matritech Files Compliance Plan with AMEX
Matritech announced this week it has filed a plan with the American Stock Exchange outlining how the company will move back to compliance with the exchange’s listing standards by no later than March 21, 2008. Matritech had previously disclosed that the exchange had informed it that it was not in compliance and in danger of being delisted.
If the plan is accepted by AMEX, Matritech will be subject to periodic reviews during an 18-month period to determine whether it is making proper progress. If the exchange rejects it or determines Matritech is not progressing toward compliance, it can initiate delisting proceedings.

ProteinOne to Provide Services to Industrial Biotechnology
Industrial Biotechnology announced this week it has chosen ProteinOne to provide and enhance IBC’s biological system design, vectoring, strain development and bio-repository services for targeted compounds.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
ProteinOne develops and manufactures highly purified, active recombinant proteins, protein assay kits, and the Active Protein Array platform. IBC commercializes proprietary technologies and intellectual property in the field of biologically produced chemicals.

Berkeley Lab Receives $13M in Grants to Automate Crystallography
The US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has received two grants totaling $13 million to hasten methods of identifying the structures of proteins and nucleic acid produced by newly discovered genes, the laboratory said this week. The funds will be used to automate the crystallographic process.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is giving the lab $4.8 million to upgrade the robotic capabilities of the crystrallography beamlines at the lab’s Advanced Light Source. The National Institutes of Health has awarded the lab $8.2 million to further develop a software program, Phenix, which automates crystallography data acquisition and analysis. 

HistoRx Makes First Installations of Quantitative In Situ Biomarker Analysis Platform
HistoRx said this week its PM-2000 image analyzer platform instrument has been installed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Mayo Clinic, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Pathology. They are the first four installations of the platform.
The four institutions also have the right to use HistoRx’s proprietary AQUA biomarker analysis technology platform. The PM-2000 allows pathologists to measure the subcellular localization and relative concentration of multiple clinically relevant proteins in diseased tissue, the company said in a statement.

Xencor Adds $45M to Coffers
Xencor announced last week it has raised $45 million in financing. The lead investor is MedImmune Ventures and new investors include Novo Nordisk and HealthCare Ventures. Zen Investments is also an investor.
Xencor has raised $130 million to date.
The $45 million includes $6 million in bridge financing announced in July. Xencor said it will use the money to continue clinical development of a first-in-class protein therapeutic, XPro 1595, and a novel antibody drug candidate, XmAb 2513.
Xencor said it expects XPro 1595, used for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, to enter clinical trials this year. It expects to initiate clinical studies of XmAB 2513 for Hodgkin’s disease.
Both products were developed with Xencor’s Protein Design Automation technologies. Based in Monrovia, Calif., Xencor develops protein and antibody therapeutics.

Agilent Joins BioIT Alliance
Agilent Technologies said last week it has joined the BioIT Alliance, a multi-industry group created to improve biomedical information technology.
Agilent will collaborate with other members on proof-of-concept applications addressing “critical bottlenecks in biomedical discovery,” the company said in a statement.

Geneva Bioinformatics Integrating GeneBio Software Into Proteomics Lab
Geneva Bioinformatics said last week that the lab of David Goodlett at the University of Washington will integrate GeneBio’s Phenyx mass spec analysis software into its planned 200-node proteomics compute cluster.
GeneBio said it has already been working with the Goodlett lab to enhance Phenyx’s operation on the lab’s existing 40-node cluster.
Financial terms of the agreement were not provided.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.