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Celltech, Institute for Systems Biology, Shimadzu Biotech, Ciphergen, University of Pittsburgh, Gray Cancer Institute, Vanderbilt University, Definiens, Serva

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Celltech Closes Proteomics Contract Service Business, Seattle Research Facility

Celltech announced this week plans to undertake an extensive restructuring plan that will involve the closing down of the proteomics contract service business it inherited from Oxford Glycosciences, the closing down of its target discovery facility in Seattle, and the elimination of about 130 jobs.

The proteomics contract service business is being closed down after the company failed to find a buyer several months after it announced, earlier this year, that it would divest the division.

The cost of closure will be funded from the remaining cash reserves of Confirmant, a bioinformatics joint venture between OGS and Marconi. Marconi sold its stake in the venture back to OGS last week for a fraction of its original buy-in price.

The Seattle R&D facility will be closed in early 2004, although “certain key activities” will be transferred to other sites, the company said. Concomitant with this closing, the company will no longer conduct in-house target discovery activities and will focus on in-licensing of targets from academia and other companies, the company said in a statement.

The closure will result in an exceptional charge of £5.5 million ($9.3 million) in the second half of the year, but is expected to save £11.5 million annually. The savings will be reinvested in R&D, according to the company.


ISB to Adopt Shimadzu Biotech MALDI Machines for ICAT Applications

Shimadzu Biotech announced this week that the Institute for Systems Biology will use Shimadzu’s Axima-QIT MALDI-based MSn system for tandem mass spec analysis.

The Axima is a hybrid quadrupole ion trap TOF/TOF instrument with a MALDI source.

Shimadzu said further that it will work with ISB to develop further applications for ICAT, using the Axima and off-line LC collection.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Ciphergen to Join NASDAQ

Ciphergen announced this week that it will be added to the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index as of the open of the markert on Monday, Nov. 24, according to a statement issued by the company.


Predictive Protein Patterns Presented for ALS and Two Types of Cancer

Preliminary data for three new potential protein pattern-based diagnostic tests were presented at two different conferences this week in a flurry of new proteomics-based biomarker news.

At the International Symposium on ALS/MND in Milan, Italy, Robert Bowser of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine presented data showing that a protein pattern found by mass spec could predict ALS with almost 100 percent accuracy and sensitivity. Bow-ser’s group identified ALS-specific biomarkers by profiling cerebrospinal fluid from 25 ALS patients and 35 control subjects.

At the International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston, Francesca Buffa of the Gray Cancer Institute in London presented data showing that protein expression patterns for patients with head and neck cancers could identify patients who would respond better to radiotherapy. Two tumor profiles were identified that had clearly different clinical outcomes, Buffa said.

Richard Caprioli also presented data at the Boston conference, showing that molecular fingerprints found by mass spec could group glioma tumors according to survival rates with 90 percent accuracy (see PM 10-10-03). Caprioli’s group identified over 200 potential molecular markers that distinguished normal from malignant tissue and differentiated grades of tumor. The preliminary study was completed on 60 human brain samples — 19 normal samples and 41 with varying grades of gliomas.


Definiens to Collaborate with German Electrophoresis Company

Munich-based software company Definiens announced this week that it has agreed to partner with Serva Electrophoresis of Heidelberg, Germany. Serva will now offer Proteomweaver — Definiens 2D gel analysis software — as part of its own product portfolio. Serva’s current portfolio includes a variety of separations products and associated chemistries, particularly for protein separations.

“Especially in small and mid-size laboratories we see an increasing demand for integrated solutions that will tie together their drug discovery processes,” Definiens CEO Uli Berresheim said in a statement.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.