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Ciphergen, MD Anderson Cancer Center, NIH, Lumera, Luminex, Invitrogen, Dynal Biotech, Purdue University, Applera, Applied Biosystems, Celera Genomics


Ciphergen and MD Anderson Cancer Center Sign Ovarian Cancer Biomarker Alliance

Ciphergen Diagnostics, a division of Ciphergen Biosystems, has signed a research and license agreement with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to discover ovarian cancer biomarkers, the company said this week.

Under the agreement, MD Anderson will provide Ciphergen with clinical samples which Ciphergen will analyze using its ProteinChip mass spectrometry technology and bioinformatics tools. The aim is to validate ovarian cancer biomarkers found earlier, to discover markers to distinguish ovarian cancer from other gynecological disorders, and to predict treatment response.

Ciphergen can exclusively license discoveries from the collaboration, and other cancer projects may be added later to the agreement.

NIH Seeks Research Proposals for Cancer-Related Protein Biomarker Project

The National Institutes of Health issued last week a request for research proposals focusing on identifying protein biomarkers for cancer “where etiology of the disease is attributed to infectious agents.”

According to the NIH, it is seeking proposals that will help develop resources to identify subpopulations of patients exposed to an infectious agent who are likely to develop infection-associated cancer.

“Identifying these subpopulations has proven difficult,” the NIH said. “Molecular markers provide a potential tool to identify the at-risk subpopulation and the presence of early stage cancers. This initiative encourages research to identify proteomic markers for risk assessment and early detection in individuals exposed to infectious agents that have been linked to cancer.”

The NIH said that while it will fund select research projects, “because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary.” The agency added that no funds have been specifically earmarked for the program, but that “awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are considered of high programmatic significance for funding consideration.”

The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research are the participating institutes on this funding opportunity.

Additional details can be found here.

Lumera Signs Up ISB to Develop Label-Free Protein Array System

Lumera will collaborate with the Institute for Systems Biology to develop a label-free protein micro-array platform, the Bothell, Wash.-based company said this week.

The platform will include Lumera’s NanoCapture microarrays and its ProteomicProcessor reader, which does not require molecular labels. The new system will enable researchers to perform real-time kinetic measurements of protein-protein, protein-drug, and protein-DNA interactions.

Lumera plans to bring the technology to market “as quickly as possible,” according to a company statement.

Luminex Q4 Revenues Rise 8.3 Percent, Net Loss Balloons 71 Percent

Luminex last week reported that fourth-quarter revenue increased 8.3 percent to $9.1 million from $8.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

R&D spending for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2004, increased 13 percent to $908,000 from $807,000 for the same quarter in 2003.

Net loss in the current quarter surged 71 percent to $1.1 million from $643,000 in the year-ago quarter.

The company had $36 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand as of Dec. 31.

Invitrogen to Acquire Norwegian Magnetic Bead Maker Dynal Biotech for $380M

Invitrogen plans to purchase Norwegian magnetic bead maker Dynal Biotech from its majority owner, Nordic Capital, and a co-investor for 2.5 billion Norwegian kroner ($380 million), the company said last week.

Dynal Biotech, based in Oslo, provides magnetic bead-based separation technologies that are used in cell separation and purification, cell stimulation, protein research, nucleic acid research, and microbiology.

Invitrogen plans to integrate the company’s Dynabead technology to enhance its own products for assay development, RNA interference, DNA cloning, proteomic analysis, and screening applications. It also plans to couple Dynabeads with targeted antibodies from Zymed Laboratories, another company Invitrogen is currently acquiring.

The acquisition is scheduled to close by the end of March. Invitrogen expects Dynal, which has more than 400 employees in Norway, the US, the UK, and China, to create $74 million in revenues from April until the end of the year.

Can Purdue Tool for Quantitative Protein Analysis Outperform ICAT?

Researchers at Purdue University claim they have developed a new way to quantitatively analyze proteins, according to a presentation at the Association of Biomolecular Resources Facilities conference, held in Savannah, Ga. last week.

The new method, called Isotope Coded Quaternary Amine Tags, or ICQAT, takes advantage of the fact that derivitized cysteine amino acids have a positive charge that can be retained by a strong cation exchanger.

The technique is also less expensive than the ICAT quantification method, according to at least one proteomics scientist.

Samir Julka, a graduate student in Fred Regnier’s laboratory at Purdue University, whose presentation at ABRF described ICQAT, said the ICQAT method has not been commercialized, but that his research group is considering commercializing it.

In the future, ICQAT may also be used to compare quantities of multiple samples, much like Applied Biosystems’ iTRAQ, said Julka.

“We are currently working on four cysteine reagents with different masses which can be used for expression analysis,” he said.

Asked to compare ICQAT with ICAT, which is licensed exclusively to ABI, Steven Gross, director of the mass spectrometry facility at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College, said that if the Purdue researchers can get around ICAT’s patenting, then the new method would be “dirt cheap” compared with ICAT.

“ICAT costs approximately $100 per sample pair,” said Gross. “The expense of ICAT becomes prohibitive for many clinical studies, especially for low-abundance proteins. ... The ICQAT looks like it’s a very easy synthesis. It looks like if [the Purdue researchers] can bust the existing [ICAT] patent, then ICQAT would be much cheaper.”

ABI Restructures Its Marketing, Distribution Pact With Celera

Applera’s board has said that Applied Biosystems and Celera Genomics can restructure their 10-year marketing and distribution agreement.

Specifically, the arrangement allows ABI to exclusively integrate Celera Discovery System data and other genomic and biological information into its product offerings, including TaqMan assays, SNPlex Genotyping Systems, and Expression Array System, in return for royalties based on revenues generated by sales of some products.

Disclosed in an SEC filing last week, the amended agreement increases the royalty rate to 4 percent from 3 percent. The deal also extends the agreement by five years, which means it will now run through the end of the company’s FY 2017.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.