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Caprion, Ecopia, Babraham Institute, Quest Diagnostics, Rosetta, Eisai, Lumiere, Cerno, NIH, Coda, Integrated Genomics, Pressure BioSciences, PerkinElmer

Caprion to Merge with Ecopia, Leaving Proteomics Market
Caprion Pharmaceuticals and Ecopia Biosciences have agreed to merge to form a new company that is focused on drug development, and then sell off Caprion’s proteomics business, the companies announced this week.
The firms said they expect to divest Caprion’s CellCarta proteomics unit within a year, and then will solely pursue oncology and infectious disease therapeutics. The new company will have three clinical therapeutic programs nearing commercialization, the companies said.  
The development follows Caprion’s decision to withdraw from its proposed initial public offering in July. The company cited poor market conditions for its withdrawal. The company’s protein-profiling technology is based on sample prep and purification, mass spectrometry analysis, quantitative expression of protein peptides, and bioinformatics.
Under the terms of the merger, Caprion shareholders stand to receive around 70 million shares, or 50 percent ownership, of the new company. Shareholders also will be entitled to be compensated for the sale of the CellCarta unit, although the companies said such payments would be dependent on “certain conditions.”
Two securities companies, Desjardins and Dundee, will handle a private placement that the companies said will be at least $30 million. Additionally, two healthcare companies, Picchio Pharma and Power Technology, have offered to put up $4 million to lead the financing, Caprion and Ecopia said.

Babraham Institute Coordinating ProteomeBinders Initiative
The British nonprofit Babraham Institute will coordinate a European Commission-sponsored proteomics research initiative that includes a large group of international research teams, the institute said this week.
The ProteomeBinders initiative, which will spend  €1.8 million ($2.4 million) over four years among 26 partnering organizations in Europe and two in the United States, “sets the stage for an open-access resource of binding molecules directed against the entire human genome,” the institute said in a statement.
The initial funding will be provided by the European Commission’s 6th Framework Program.
Babraham said the consortium will integrate “existing infrastructures,” review technology and high-throughput methods, standardize tools and applications, and establish a database.
The institute said the program will aim to “understand how the information encoded within the genome, and expressed as the proteome, choreographs the biological organizations of cells, tissues and organisms.”

Quest to Develop PAD Test
Ciphergen announced this week that Quest Diagnostics is developing a test for peripheral artery disease to be marketed as an analyte-specific reagent test.
This PAD test is being developed as part of an agreement between Quest and Ciphergen forged in 2005 for Quest to develop diagnostic assays based on the SELDI protein array platform once owned by Ciphergen.
Separately, Ciphergen and Stanford University are collaborating on a PAD test to be marketed as in vitro diagnostic test. Ciphergen is about to go into clinical trials for the test and plans to apply for FDA approval in the second half of the year, a Ciphergern spokeswoman said.
PAD is caused by the build-up of plaque in the peripheral arteries, disrupting normal blood flow, leading to stenosis, Ciphergen said in a press release. Between 8 million and 12 million Americans are affected by PAD, the company said.

Rosetta Licenses Elucidator to Japan’s Eisai
Eisai has licensed the Elucidator protein expression analysis system from Rosetta Biosoftware, Rosetta announced this week. Tokyo-based Eisai, one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies, will use the system in the Laboratory of Seeds Finding Technology to support liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry quantification work for the potential discovery of neurology biomarkers, Rosetta said.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Elucidator data management system allows users to organize, search for, and retrieve raw and processed protein expression data, according to Rosetta.

Lumiere to Distribute Cerno’s MassWork Software
Cerno Bioscience this week announced a deal with Lumiere Technology to distribute Cerno’s MassWorks data software in China.
Terms of the deal were not announced.
According to a statement from Cerno, single and triple quadrupole mass spectrometry systems are growing at a rate of 15 percent in China. The instruments are specified to provide only indistinct mass accuracy, however, and MassWork can improve the accuracy of single and triple quadrupole mass specs by up to 100 times, Cerno said.

NIH Funding Hearing Research
The National Institutes of Health is looking for proteomics researchers to conduct studies on auditory diseases and development processes.
Information about the NIH grant and information on how to apply can be found here.
According to the NIH program, an array of developing sensory organs and tissues have been identified through molecular exploration, but “Numerous cell types, and their substructures, unique to the inner ear, such as hair cells, Deiters, Hensen, Claudius', interdental, and marginal/dark cells, have been virtually unexplored from a proteomic perspective…
“Microarrays and other transcript sensing technologies have been used successfully to increase the number of candidate genes, but clearly there remain interpretive limitations to the correlative protein function,” the NIH said.

Coda, Integrated Genomics Partner to Better Protein Expression
Under a collaboration announced this week, Integrated Genomics will use Coda Genomics’ proprietary Translation Engineering protein expression technology to enhance protein production in Pichia yeast expression.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Coda’s technology addresses protein expression, solubility, and activity challenges in “rational design steps at all stages of pharmaceutical development,” the company said in a statement.
“This relationship exemplifies our continued expansion and success in solving protein expression bottlenecks,” said Robert Molinari, CEO of Coda.

Pressure BioSciences’ Schumacher Repays Loan
Pressure BioSciences announced last week that President and CEO Richard Schumacher delivered 249,875 shares of the company’s common stock in full payment of his loan receivable to the company.
The payment includes the principal of $1 million and interest of $25,487 accrued during the fourth quarter. The number of shares was determined upon a share price of $4.104, the volume weighted average of Pressure BioSciences’s common stock on Nasdaq during the 60 trading days prior to Dec. 29.
The number of Pressure BioSciences’ issued and outstanding shares of common stock decreases to 2,065,425 from 2,315,300. Schumacher owns 229,782 shares, or 11.1 percent, of the company’s stock.

PerkinElmer to Purchase Euroscreen Products
PerkinElmer last month announced an agreement to purchase Euroscreen Products in a cash deal. Financial terms of the agreement, expected to close during the first quarter, were not disclosed.
Euroscreen Products is a majority owned subsidiary of Euroscreen. Based in Gosselies, Belgium, Euroscreen Products provides G protein-coupled receptor membranes, cell lines, and the AequoScreen aequorin-based cellular assay platform.
Under the agreement, Euroscreen Products would transfer its portfolio of GPCR screening tools and its exclusive global license to aequorin technology to PerkinElmer.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.