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Cytogen, GeneBio, Biovitrum, LSBC


Cytogen Cuts 75 Percent of AxCell Biosciences’ Staff

AxCell Biosciences said last week it had laid off three out of four employees and suspended “certain projects” as its parent, Cytogen, tries to cut costs and focus more on its core R&D. Cytogen said AxCell will continue to develop its signal-transduction pathway database for clinical research and functional proteomics.

Though it did not say what “certain projects” were set for termination, AxCell said that it will “continue to support key research projects” in the “later stages of development,” and those deals that involve “the most productive research collaborations.”

Cytogen, which said the restructuring stands to save it roughly $1.4 million in operating expenses per year beginning in the fourth quarter, hinted at AxCell’s future last May when it said it was “reviewing strategic alternatives” for the unit.


GeneBio licenses Melanie to Bruker

GeneBio has given Bruker Daltonics non-exclusive worldwide rights to distribute Melanie, GeneBio’s 2D gel analysis software for visualizing, analyzing, and manipulating 2D gel data. Bruker will integrate Melanie, which was developed by the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, into its suite of mass spectrometry and bioinformatics products designed for protein expression analysis.


Biovitrum Extends Research Contract with Sidec Technologies

Sidec Technologies of Stockholm, Sweden, has agreed to extend its contract research into membrane proteins for Biovitrum, also of Stockholm, the two companies said. Sidec is using electron tomography technology to visualize the in situ structure of a membrane protein complex involved in a metabolic regulatory system.

The three-dimensional images provided by Sidec “fit very nicely into the x-ray crystallogrphy structure we already have,” Martin Norin, Biovitrum’s director of structural chemistry, said in a statement. The extended project aims to image the protein complex while embedded in the membrane, he added. Sidec says its imaging technique, which it calls Sidec Electron Tomography, has a resolution of two nanometers.

LSBC Reorganizes Businesses, Names Managers of New Units

Large Scale Biology Corporation has reconfigured itself into three stand-alone business units, each with its own cost structure and executive accountable for driving business growth, the company said last week.

Robert Walden, formerly a senior vice president, will take over LSBC’s proteomics division in Germantown, Md. “Our proteomics business has undergone an important financial turnaround in recent months and has made major strides toward becoming a cash-generating operation,” LSBC President John Fowler said in a statement. Although the proteomics operation has had trouble generating cash for the company in the past, the NIEHS this summer awarded the division a $12.3 million research contract.

David McGee will assume responsibility of LSBC’s biomanufacturing capabilities. McGee will also take the title of executive vice president.

Barry Holtz will take command of the business unit responsible for biopharmaceutical development, with the title of senior vice president for biopharmaceutical development. This arm of the company is responsible for developing LSBC’s Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, alpha-galactosidase A, and stem cell growth factor therapeutic products. “The drug pipeline product area is where LSBC expends the largest amount of R&D money, and where we believe there is significant opportunity to create long-term value,” Robert Erwin, LSBC’s CEO, said in a statement.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.