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Europroteome, RheoGene, Infocom, Ciphergen, Serenex, Aviva Biosciences


Europroteome and RheoGene to Jointly Study Targets and Markers for Colon Cancer

Europroteome and RheoGene have signed a collaboration to identify potential protein targets and diagnostic markers associated with colon cancer, the companies said last week. Although the parties did not disclose financial terms of the deal, Europroteome has the rights to develop and commercialize any products that result from the joint research project.

In the project, Hennigsdorf, Germany-based Europroteome and Spring House, Penn.-based RheoGene will investigate MHC class I- and II-associated peptide antigens as therapeutic targets and related proteins as diagnostic markers. Europroteome will supply human colon cancer tissue samples, collected from its network of clinical research hospitals in the US and Europe, and apply its proprietary cell purification techniques to the samples. The company will also apply its platform of 2D gel-based protein separation and identification technology to determine protein expression patterns in the colon cancer tissue.

Rheogene, for its part, will employ its technology for regulating gene expression to identify peptides and proteins processed through the MHC pathway. Rheogene’s technology, called RheoSwitch, targets the promoter regions of specific genes, disabling their expression.


Infocom to Distribute Swiss-prot Databases in Japan

Japanese IT company Infocom has agreed to distribute protein databases in Japan for GeneBio, the companies said last week. The databases, originally developed at the Swiss Institute for Bioinformatics in Geneva, include Swiss-Prot, a curated database of protein sequences, Prosite, a database of protein families and domains, and Swiss-2DPage, an annotated database of 2D gel images and protein identifications.

GeneBio has had exclusive rights since 1998 to sell technology developed at the SIB, and has collaborated with Infocom for the past three years, according to a statement.


Ciphergen’s Protein chip Technology Featured in Science Paper

In a paper published online last week in Science, researchers at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Rockefeller University and Ciphergen Biosystems used Ciphergen’s ProteinChip-brand technology to identify a cluster of proteins that suppress the replication of the HIV virus. Studying a group of HIV-positive individuals who have yet to develop AIDS, the research team focused on the patients’ CD8 T cells, trying to determine the identity of a factor called CAF, which is known to suppress the virus’ replication. Using Ciphergen’s protein affinity arrays and SELDI-TOF mass spectrometry, in combination with specific antibodies, the researchers compared CD8 T-lymphocyte cultures derived from HIV-positive individuals without AIDS, to those with AIDS and normal individuals, and identified the components of the CAF factor as a-defensins-1, -2, and -3. The finding was also reproduced in vitro, by subjecting HIV cells to purified a-defensins.


Serenex to investigate new drug targets for Chiron’s small molecules

Chiron agreed last week to enter a relationship with Serenex to access the company’s technology for identifying new drug targets for unspecified diseases. Under the arrangement, Chiron will supply Serenex with small molecule drug-like compounds, and Serenex will attempt to determine the drugs’ protein binding partners. In addition to research funding, Serenex also could receive milestone and royalty payments if Chiron succesfully develops drugs from the research.

Serenex’s technology is built around the research of co-founder Timothy Haystead, a professor of pharmacology at Duke University who developed techniques for selecting out purine-binding proteins from cell lysates using affinity columns loaded with ATP. To screen these potential targets for interactions with small molecule lead compounds, Haystead devised a technique for determining whether a small molecule displaces one or more of the proteins bound to the affinity column, and identifying those potential targets by mass spectrometry.


Aviva Biosciences Raises $11.8M in Private Funding

Startup biochip company Aviva Biosciences said last week it had secured $11.8 million in the first closing of a Series B round of private-equity financing. Previous Aviva investor China Development Industrial Bank led the round, which brings the total amount invested in Aviva since 1998 to $16.8 million. Axon Instruments and Pac-Link Management also took part in the round.

Aviva, based in San Diego, said it will use the money to help it launch a biochip it is developing with Axon that will work with that firm’s PatchXpress line of ion channel drug-screening systems. Earlier this month, the company hired former Lynx chief Norrie Russell to be its president and CEO.

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.