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ABI, Thermo Electron, Prosolia, PerkinElmer, Blueprint Initiative Asia, NIGMS, Whitehead Institute, Nature Publishing Group, IBM


ABI Sues Thermo Electron for Infringement of Mass Spectrometer Patent

Applera, MDS and Applied Biosystems/MDS Scientific Instruments have filed a complaint in US District Court for the District of Delaware for Thermo Electron’s alleged infringement of a patent dealing with triple quadrupole mass spectrometers.

ABI previously won an $18.1 million settlement from Waters for infringement of the same patent, US patent number 4,963,736, entitled “Mass Spectrometer and Method and Improved Ion Transmission” (see ProteoMonitor story on March 19).

The mass spectrometers covered by the patent make up approximately one percent of Thermo Electron’s annual revenues.

Officials from Applied Biosystems and Thermo Electron could not be reached for comment.

Inproteo Subsidiary Prosolia Licenses Electrospray Technology to Thermo Electron

Prosolia, a subsidiary of Inproteo, announced this week that it has agreed to license its ElectroSonicSpray Ionization technology to Thermo Electron. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The ESSI technology is a proprietary ionization technique that enables ionization of large molecules such as protein and protein complexes, while retaining their conformation and function, Prosolia said.

Ian Jardine, Thermo Electron’s chief technology officer, said in an official statement that Thermo would likely implement the technology commercially in early 2005 to complement the current technique of electrospray ionization and MALDI for analyzing large biological molecules.

PerkinElmer Strikes Deal With BioImage for Cell-Based Screening Applications

PerkinElmer announced last week that it plans to collaborate with BioImage to develop cell-based assays on the PerkinElmer EnVision HTS plate reader platform. Bioimage has developed a suite of assay technologies for measuring protein-protein interactions in living cells using PerkinElmer’s EnVision platform.

EnVision provides extremely sensitive fluorometric detection at high speeds, making it a good detection platform for BioImage assays. The combination enables customers to perform robust cell-based identification of inhibitors of protein/protein interactions at relatively high throughput levels.

For PerkinElmer, the deal is a step towards providing customers with high-content screening. See ProteoMonitor’s sister publication Inside BioAssays for more details.

Blueprint Asia Collaborates with Novartis Institute on Dengue Fever

The Blueprint Initiative Asia, housed at the National University of Singapore, said last month that it is collaborating with the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases on research project for dengue fever.

Blueprint Asia will assemble and curate known protein interactions relevant to the biology of the dengue virus, and will enter this data into the Biomolecular Interaction Network Database.

NIGMS Awards $15M to Quantitative Bio Center

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences said that it will award $3 million this year to a new quantitative biology center it is establishing at Princeton University. The center, the fifth so-called Center of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research that NIGMS has funded, will be led by David Botstein.

NIGMS said it expects to award the center a total of $14.8 million over five years.

NIGMS said that a “key feature” of the center will be the development of computational methods to model complex biological systems based on large quantities of experimental data. The center will make all its data and analysis tools freely available.

Prions Act As Stepping Stones in Evolution in Yeast

Though they are destructive in Mad Cow disease, prions, or proteins that change shape in a self-perpetuating way, can play a positive role in yeast, researchers at the Whitehead Institute in Boston, Mass. have discovered.

In a research paper published in the Aug. 15 online edition of Nature, Heather True, the lead author, describes how a particular yeast protein called Sup35 misfolds into its prion conformation, allowing genetic information to be read beyond stop codons. This results in phenotype changes which may confer an evolutionary advantage.

“This is the first time we’ve seen a prion affect a cell in a beneficial way that can determine the evolution of an organism,” said True.

Previous studies had shown that prions lead to the formation of amyloid fibers similar to those found in Alzheimer’s patients. The prions cause the cell’s protein-producing machinery to go drastically awry. True’s research provides a molecular mechanism behind this change in phenotype.

Nature Publishing Group and EMBO Launch New Online Journal On Molecular Systems Biology

Nature Publishing Group announced this week that it has launched a new peer-reviewed, online-only journal called Molecular Systems Biology in partnership with the European Molecular Biology Organization. The journal will be available, free of charge, in Spring 2005.

“The completion of genome sequences from many organisms, along with rapid advances in areas such as proteomics, imaging and computational analysis, has led to a vast increase in the amount of data available to researchers,” NPG officials said in a release. “It is becoming increasingly clear that a systems-level approach will be necessary to interpret and exploit these advances for the future benefit of humankind.”

NPG will defray the costs of publication by charging authors for each article published. Though this method of publication has been subject to much debate, both NPG and EMBO believe that it is a good time to explore new possibilities with the “author-pays” publishing model.

AIST to Use IBM’s BlueGene for Protein Research

IBM has announced that Japanese research laboratory Advanced Industrial Science and Technology will use the IBM BlueGene/L supercomputer to predict 3-D protein structures.

The BlueGene/L system will be installed in February 2005 at the Computational Biology research Center at Tokyo-based AIST. The system consists of four racks with a peak processing speed of 22.8 trillion calculations per second.

Yorktown Heights, NY-based IBM said that it was discussing possible areas for joint research with AIST using application software that IBM has specifically designed for researching protein simulations on BlueGene/L.

AIST joins the Argonne National Laboratory in the US and the Dutch astronomical organization ASTRON, both of which will start using the BlueGene/L supercomputer next year.

The Scan

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.

Adenine Base Editor Targets SCID Mutation in New Study

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in Cell that adenine base editing was able to produce functional T lymphocytes in a model of severe combined immune deficiency.

Researchers Find Gene Affecting Alkaline Sensitivity in Plants

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have found a locus affecting alkaline-salinity sensitivity, which could aid in efforts to improve crop productivity, as they report in Science.

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.