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FDA, BGM, Bruker, Presearch, Eksigent, Caprion, Ecopia, GenTel, Ludesi, DSM Nutritional Products, Compugen

FDA OKs BGM’s Hepatoxicity Project; ABI Mass Specs Being Used
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first phase of a BG Medicine and National Center for Toxicological Research project to develop biomarkers for liver toxicity, BG Medicine said this week.
BGM also said it will use mass spectrometry technology made by Applied Biosystems, and named seven pharmaceutical companies that will participate in the project.
Last month, BGM and ABI announced a two-year deal calling for BGM to integrate ABI’s mass spectrometers and iTRAQ reagents into BGM’s biomarker research and validation work [See PM 01/18/07].
The goal of the liver project is to seek biomarkers of hepatoxicity in humans.
BGM said the project will be conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement and is part of the larger Critical Path Initiative, which the FDA inaugurated in 2004 as a response to what it called an “urgent need” to modernize and bring down the cost of medical products development.
BGM said it expects phase one will last around nine months.
Pharmaceutical companies working with and helping to fund the biomarker project include Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Orion, UCB, Sankyo, and Eisai.
BGM said it expects the project to result in improved tests for liver toxicity, the most common biological reason for drug failure.

Bruker Posts Record Revs, Profits for Q4 and 2006
Bruker BioSciences this week said it recorded record revenues and earnings for the fourth quarter and full-year 2006.
During the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2006 revenues rose 27 percent to $135.6 million from $106.8 million during the year-ago period. Net income nearly doubled to $9.7 million from $4.9 million a year ago.
In July, Bruker completed its acquisition of Bruker Optics, and all earnings figures are treated as if the companies were always combined.
For full-year 2006, revenues rose 17.1 percent to $435.8 million from $372.3 million for full-year 2005. Net income rose 90 percent to $18.5 million in 2006, compared to $9.7 million a year ago.
The company did not break out separate figures for its Daltonics division housing most of Bruker’s proteomics instruments.
The company spent $13.5 million on R&D during the fourth quarter and $50 million for full-year 2006. As of Dec. 31, 2006, Bruker had $52 million in cash and short-term investments, compared to $109 million a year ago.

Presearch to Sell Eksigent HPLC Ware in UK, Ireland
Eksigent announced a new distribution agreement with Presearch for sales of Eksigent’s NanoLC HPLC products in the UK and Ireland.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Presearch, a part of medical and scientific division of United Drug and based in Hampshire, UK, is a solution and service provider to analytical and life science researchers, the companies said in a joint statement. Among its customers are top UK drug companies and universities and research institutions.

Caprion, Ecopia Raise $38.5M for Proposed Firm to be Called Thallion
Caprion Pharmaceuticals and Ecopia BioSciences said this week they have received commitments of CA $45 million [US $38.5 million] to finance the creation of a new company formed by their proposed merger.
The new company will be named Thallion Pharmaceuticals.
Picchio Pharma, a joint venture health care investment firm, and Power Technology Investment Corp. placed a lead order of CA $4 million in the proposed funding. The private placement by a syndicate of agents is being co-led by Desjardins Securities and Dundee Securities.
Caprion and Ecopia announced in January their plans to merge. Caprion would sell its proteomics business if the merger is completed. Each will hold special shareholder meetings on March 12 for a vote on the proposal.

Protein Chip Firm GenTel Raises $2M
GenTel BioSciences of Madison, Wisc., said this week it has raised $2 million in financing. The funding was led by NEW Capital Fund, based in Appleton, Wisc., and Wisconsin Investment Partners, angel investors based in Madison.
GenTel is a protein chip-based life sciences firm.
The financing was done in three phases. The first two raised $500,000 each and the last raised $1 million. Several individual investors also participated in the funding round.

Ludesi Provides Software Services to DSM
Swedish bioinformatics company Ludesi will provide its 2D protein gel image-analysis software services to DSM Nutritional Products, Ludesi said this week.
The software will help DSM streamline the protein quantification step in its proteomics platform, which the company said will be a useful improvement in its studies of microbial metabolism.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
DSM supplies vitamins, carotenoids and other chemicals to the feed, food, pharmaceutical, and personal care industries.

Compugen Finds Eight Novel GPCR Peptide Ligands With New Discovery Engine
Compugen said this week that it has discovered eight novel peptides that activate G protein-coupled receptors using a new GPCR ligand discovery engine.
The discovery engine uses proprietary machine-learning algorithms to analyze the predictive peptidome. Using the discovery engine, Compugen researchers discovered hundreds of peptides likely to activate GPCRs, of which 33 novel peptides were synthesized and screened in a functional assay against a panel of 152 GPCRs, Compugen said in a statement.
Eight were shown to activate six different GPCRs in a concentration-dependent manner. Some of the GPCRs have no known endogenous ligands. The receptors for which novel ligands have been discovered include the MAS 1 and MAS-related GPCRs, MRGX 1 and MRGX 2, FPRL 1, and the two Relaxin family receptors, RXFP 1 and RXFP 2.

The Scan

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.

Adenine Base Editor Targets SCID Mutation in New Study

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in Cell that adenine base editing was able to produce functional T lymphocytes in a model of severe combined immune deficiency.

Researchers Find Gene Affecting Alkaline Sensitivity in Plants

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have found a locus affecting alkaline-salinity sensitivity, which could aid in efforts to improve crop productivity, as they report in Science.

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.