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ABI, Delphi Medical Systems, NCI, Blueprint, NCBI, NLM, Compugen, Ortho-Clinical


ABI to Sell Mass Spec Manufacturing
Facility to Delphi Medical Systems

Applied Biosystems is selling its Texas-based mass spectrometry manufacturing facility to Delphi Medical Systems, a multi-faceted instrument manufacturer, according to people familiar with the transaction.

The deal, which was to have closed on June 6, will be announced June 9, according to one of these individuals.

Based in Stafford, on the outskirts of Houston, ABI's facility employs around 50 people. The 50,000-square-foot facility manufactures mass specs and related software, protein sequencers, peptide- and DNA-synthesis products, and cell-detection instruments, she said.

Financial terms of the deal or the status of the employees were not immediately known.

A spokesperson for ABI confirmed the sale, but did not elaborate. She referred a GenomeWeb News reporter to a second spokesperson, who did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

The sale of the facility is consistent with an ongoing restructuring at ABI, especially in its proteomic instrument business. Last September, the company transferred its Voyager MALDI-TOF and 4700 MALDI-TOF/TOF instruments, made in Houston, to its joint venture with MDS. The joint venture already produces a number of mass spectrometers sold by ABI, which will continue to market, sell, and service the systems.

R&D and manufacturing of the Voyager and 4700 mass spectrometers — the only ones that ABI manufactured in-house at the time — and related intellectual property will be moved to the ABI/MDS Sciex Instruments joint venture in Toronto.

As part of that deal, manufacturing will move from ABI's facility to MDS Sciex. In addition, ABI has reduced its MALDI R&D group in Framingham, Mass., by an undisclosed number of people and will transfer the remainder of the group to Toronto. All future MALDI-TOF-based mass spec systems will be developed in Toronto.

Delphi Medical Systems, based in Troy, Mich., manufactures instruments for dialysis, infusion, in vitro diagnostics, respiratory care, and equipment for monitoring vital signs, according to its web site.

Biomarker Standardization to Play Role in
NCI's Plan to 'Revamp' Cancer Clincial Trials

In its ongoing effort to "revamp" its clinical trial program, the National Cancer Institute approved suggestions to develop methods to standardize the way biomarker data are measured, analyzed, and reported, according to the institute.

The effort is part of a broader announcement by the NCI stating that its National Cancer Advisory Board had accepted 22 proposals friom the Clinical Trials Working Group outlining steps the NCI can take to improve the institute's cancer clinical trials system. The CTWG's proposal also includes a five-year plan to accomplish the changes.

Among the proposed changes, the CTWG suggests that the NCI should "develop a standards-setting process for the measurement, analysis, and reporting of biomarker data in association with clinical trials to enhance data comparisons, reduce duplication, and facilitate data submission for regulatory approval," according to a statement released by the institute this week.

"Advances in molecular medicine are the driving force behind the Clinical Trials Working Group recommendations," the NCI said in the statement. "These advances offer enormous potential to improve cancer clinical practice by advancing beyond the toxic treatments of the past, but also create new challenges for the design and conduct of cancer clinical trials."

The CTWG's report, which can be found here, includes an implementation plan with a timeline and budget for each of the 22 initiatives.

Blueprint Releases 'Initial' Assembly Data
Into Entrez Gene, Partners With NCBI, NLM

The Blueprint Initiative Asia, together with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and National Library of Medicine has released an "initial" set of molecular assembly data to the Entrez Gene database from its Biomolecular Interaction Network, or BIND, database, the group said this week.

"Our collaboration with NCBI and NLM is consistent with Blueprint's goal of facilitating basic and applied research by offering scientists a complete package of relevant information about important biological targets," Christopher Hogue, Blueprint project leader and principal investigator.

Terms of the agreement call for Blueprint to provide NCBI with a steady supply of BIND data for insertion into Entrez Gene. In exchange, Entrez Gene records will provide researchers with links back to the appropriate data entry in BIND. "The presence of interaction-focused BIND data at Entrez Gene will provide valuable molecular function information to many scientists who use Entrez Gene," the group said.

Linking to BIND from these records will also allow "ready access to fully annotated interaction data. The interaction data in Entrez Gene links researchers with Entrez Gene, Entrez Protein, and PubMed records of biomolecular partners, as well as to the deeply curated and structured records found within the BIND repository itself," Blueprint said.

An initial set of more than 10,000 BIND records have gone live on Entrez Gene, it added. These records provide information about more than 6,000 genes across more than 100 types of organisms.

Entrez Gene provides descriptions of experimental findings from scientific publications. This data could enable researchers to search and view detailed information about a gene on the basis of information such as gene names, accession numbers, symbols, publications, and chromosome numbers, Blueprint said.

The BIND database was designed to provide scientists with "highly structured and deeply curated" biological assembly data ranging from molecular interactions and small-molecule chemical reactions to interfaces from three-dimensional structures, pathways, and genetics interaction networks, also "largely" derived from peer-reviewed literature.

Until now, most functional annotation distributed from Entrez Gene has been extracted from "current" biomedical literature by employees of the Index Section of the NLM. BIND "enhances" this effort because its data are "attached to interacting molecules, and to sequences that define them."

Compugen, Ortho-Clinical
To Turn Biomarkers into Dx

Compugen and Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson company, will jointly develop diagnostic tests based on Compugen's biomarkers, the Tel Aviv-based company said this week.

Initially, Ortho-Clinical will have the option to select up to nine biomarkers that the partners will clinically validate. Following successful validation, Ortho-Clinical plans to develop markers into products. In exchange for paying development milestones and revenue-based royalties, Ortho-Clinical will have worldwide rights to commercialize the tests. Compugen will also receive license fees for each commercialized biomarker.

Compugen discovered the biomarkers using its LEADS platform, which analyzes the human proteome.

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.