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Babraham to Use $500K Grant to Pay for Biacore System

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The commercial arm of the UK's Babraham Institute plans to purchase and install at its Technology Development Laboratory next month a Biacore T100 optical biosensor, to be paid for by a £321,763 ($506,146) capital equipment competition grant awarded by the East of England Development Agency.

Babraham Bioscience Technologies will make the Biacore T100 available to bioscience companies in the East of England region seeking to define therapeutic and diagnostic targets for the development of biological therapeutics as well as new drugs.

Derek Jones, CEO of Babraham Bioscience Technologies, told GenomeWeb Daily News the Biacore T100 will be located in one of the laboratories that comprise the TDL, within the institute's 450-acre Babraham Research Campus, some six miles south of Cambridge.

"It can be accessed by biomedicine companies, who are then able to utilize the space, equipment and staff to undertake some of the pre-commercial work to establish the commercial viability of the science," Jones said.

The Biacore T100 allows users to "elucidate disease mechanisms by characterizing native or recombinant protein interactions," as well as select protein therapeutic candidates according to their on/off rates," according to GE Healthcare, which bought Biacore in 2006.

Among companies intending to use the Biacore T100 is Senexis, a small-molecule drug discovery company focused on treatments and diagnostics for Alzheimer's disease and other age-related diseases.

"The relevance of this new equipment to Senexis is that it will enable us to identify where our potential Alzheimer's therapeutics actually bind to toxic forms of the amyloid protein. This will, hopefully, provide further and more detailed supporting data to further elucidate the molecular mechanism of action of these compounds," Senexis CEO J. Mark Treherne told GWDN.

Senexis was one of several residents of Babraham's bioincubator that formed a consortium offering formal support to BBT's effort to win the grant, which included offering access to the Biacore T100 for small and medium-sized enterprises from throughout the East of England area. Two other supporters were Antitope, a developer of non-immunogenic protein therapeutics, and the regional life sciences industry organization ERBI.

Treherne said the Biacore T100 will increase overall recruitment within the consortium, which he chairs, though there are no immediate plans for hiring new personnel dedicated to the screening instrument.

The funding for the Biacore T100 is the second EEDA capital equipment competition grant to be awarded toward purchasing equipment for the TDL. The first grant, announced last year, was a £300,000 award that funded a suite of bio-processing equipment for the production and purification of biologicals, for the benefit of drug discovery companies and other bioscience organizations in the East of England region.