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Eurogentec, Zyomyx, Applied Biosystems, Cambridge Antibody Technology, European Union, Delta Search Labs, Proteome Systems, Scimagix, Roche, Purely Proteins


Eurogentec Buys Wita Proteomics

Eurogentec of Liège, Belgium, acquired Berlin-based Wita Proteomics last month.

According to Eurogentec, Wita will complement its own developments in proteomics, for example a new protein array platform. Eurogentec, a 1985 spinoff from the University of Liège with subsidiaries in France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands, and offices in Switzerland and the US, provides genomic and proteomic tools and research services.

Wita Proteomics, a 2000 spinoff from biotechnology company Wita, offered proteomics services like 2D gel electrophoresis and protein analysis by mass spectrometry. Among its customers were Nestle, Janssen Research Foundation (a division of Johnson and Johnson), and Brahms, a diagnostics company based in Berlin.


Zyomyx Purchases Protein Chip Fabrication System from Tegal

Indicating that it will likely switch from development into production mode in due course, Zyomyx bought a 903e plasma etch system for manufacturing protein chip components from Tegal of Petaluma, Calif. Tegal said it expects to install the system this month.

Zyomyx, which is based in Hayward, Calif., will use the system to produce its antibody arrays. Previously, the company had said it would bring its Protein Profiling Biochip system to market in early 2003.


ABI Lays Off 500 Workers

Applied Biosystems is laying off almost 10 percent of its workforce this month, including about 400 regular employees and 100 contract and temporary employees. The reductions will affect all areas of the company, among them research, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and administration, and will happen primarily in the US and in Europe.

According to the company, jobs are being cut in response to uncertain economic conditions and to reduce R&D investment.

ABI will take a total special charge of about $40 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2003 that will include severance costs, office closures, and asset write-offs and commitments of $14 million related to changes in product launches.

“We expect the life sciences research market to continue to grow,” said Michael Hunkapiller, president of ABI, in a statement. “However, present challenges include delays in appropriations for the National Institutes of Health for the current federal government fiscal year, and uncertainty about funding levels in Japan, parts of Europe, and within the pharmaceutical industry. These challenges and uncertainties have prompted us to rebalance our expense levels and take a careful look at costs throughout the organization. We believe this is prudent and necessary following a period of rapid growth, particularly in research and development.”


CAT Settles Patent Disputes with MorphoSys, Crucell

Just before year’s end, Cambridge Antibody Technology of Cambridge, UK, has settled patent disputes with MorphoSys of Martinsried, Germany, and Crucell of Leiden, the Netherlands.

Under the first settlement agreement, MorphoSys will pay CAT an annual sum of €1 million over the next five years and make certain milestone and royalty payments. Moreover, CAT will receive an equity stake of 588,160 shares in MorphoSys.

In return, MorphoSys will be free to develop and commercialize its HuCAL Gold libraries and all future derivatives of them. It will also receive a license to CAT patents covering previous HuCAL libraries.

Crucell will pay CAT an undisclosed initial license fee. CAT will also receive milestone and royalty payments for any antibody products that Crucell or its partners develop that are derived from Crucell’s Mabstract technology or other technologies involving phage display. In return, Crucell and its partners will be free to develop and commercialize human antibody products against targets using CAT’s phage display technology.


EU puts out calls for proposals

Last month, the European Union put out its first calls for proposals for its 6th Framework Programme, a major science funding initiative.

The budget for the area of life sciences, genomics, and biotechnology for health is € 513 million in total. Researchers responding to the call have to submit their applications by March 25, 2003.

In proteomics, proposals include the following areas: development of advanced array technologies, development and application of high-throughput proteomics technologies for the generation of a large dataset of protein-protein interactions, 3D structure determination of membrane proteins, supramolecular analysis by 3D-electron microscopy in situ, development of new hardware and software for the implementation of innovative automated technologies at synchrotron sites, and development of a European databank comprising recent advances in genomics, proteomics, and cell biology for immunotherapies.


Delta Search Labs and Proteome Systems start collaboration

Delta Search Labs of Boston, Mass., and Proteome Systems of Sydney, Australia, said last month they were going to explore joint commercial opportunities. As a first step, they intend to review their respective technology platforms and expertise.

Delta Search Labs focuses on high-performance computing and data visualization, as well as pattern recognition, image processing, and data mining.

Proteome Systems provides instrumentation for high-throughput 2D gel electrophoresis as well as a proprietary bioinformatics system, and markets its products through a strategic alliance with IBM.

It recently formed a joint venture with Charles River Laboratories in Wilmington, Mass., to provide contract services in proteomics.


Scimagix and Roche partner to develop image data Management solutions

Scimagix of San Mateo, Calif., and Roche of Basel, Switzerland, have entered into a multi-year agreement to develop new image data management solutions.

Under the agreement, Scimagix will provide Roche with technology to analyze, integrate, and track experimental data relating to protein expression. Initially, Scimagix will implement a program that can help detect and select proteins on 2D gels that can then be automatically picked and analyzed by mass spectrometry.

Sicmagix has other contracts with pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Eli Lilly.


Purely Proteins licenses database to Cytomyx

Purely Proteins of Cambridge, UK, has licensed its database of gene and protein information, TargetBase Plus, to Cytomyx of London.

Cytomyx paid a license fee to access the database for applications in the G-protein coupled receptor field.

Purely Proteins’ database is made up of modules, each relating to a particular gene family, such as GPCRs, kinases, and phosphodiesterases.

It contains nucleotide, EST, and protein information, and links to more information about each potential drug discovery target in these families. The database exploits relationships between genes, drawn from accumulated knowledge about drug targets from publicly available sequence databases.

Cytomyx offers contract research in early stage drug discovery to the pharmaceutical industry.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.