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Fixing Proteomics Campaign, Vermillion, NIH, Bruker Daltonics, Proxeon, U of Aberdeen, EMBL, Fluorotechnics, ETC Electrophorese-Technik, Genedata, Tokyo Medical U, AMR, Leica Microsystems, Singulex, Washington U, Plexera, Sigma-Aldrich, Panacea Pharmaceut

We’re Good … Really
A group of proteomics researchers and industry executives has launched a campaign to bolster the perception of proteomics and fire up the proteomics community about the future of the field.
Will Dracup, one of the founders of the Fixing Proteomics Campaign and CEO of Nonlinear Dynamics, said it began as a way to restore credibility to the proteomics field, which he said has been under question from funding agencies and drug firms for not living up to its potential.
He and others began drumming up interest for the campaign during the Human Proteome Organization’s annual conference in October, he said.
According to the campaign’s website, “The reality and the message we want to share is that proteomics has delivered and can continue to make a huge impact on our understanding of biology and generating new drugs.“The reality and the message we want to share is that proteomics has delivered and can continue to make a huge impact on our understanding of biology and generating new drugs.
The campaign is operating based on a three-step plan, Dracup said: The first is help the community see through some very complex issues in proteomics and get them started thinking about issues in the field; the second is to provide “how-to” information through the development of protocols and best practices; and the third is to alert the community to leading research in the field.
Along with Dracup, the other founders are David Bramwell, technical director at Nonlinear Dynamics; Mark Baker, director of the Australian Proteome Analysis Facility; Hans Voshol, senior scientist, protein sciences at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research; and Kathryn Lilley, facility group leader at the Cambridge Center for Proteomics at Cambridge University.

Vermillion Still in the Red, but Losses Shrink in Q3
Vermillion this week said it continues to have no revenues but had shrunk its third-quarter losses to $5.1 million, compared to a loss of $7.1 million during the year-ago period.
As of Sept. 30, Vermillion, formerly called Ciphergen, had cash and cash equivalents of $19.5 million, and for the quarter, the company spent $2.2 million in R&D, down from $2.9 million a year ago.
As a result of the sale of its SELDI platform to Bio-Rad Laboratories last November, the company has no revenues and does not foresee having any until the commercialization of three diagnostic tests in its pipeline. Last week, the company announced a test co-developed with Ohio State University for thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is expected to hit the market by the end of the month [See PM 11/08/07]. If it does, it would be Vermillion’s first commercially available diagnostic test.
Work on its two other tests, for ovarian cancer and peripheral arterial disease, continues, and the company said both may hit the market in early 2008.

Innovative, Creative? NIH Wants to Give You Money
The National Institutes of Health is calling for applications for the 2008 NIH Director’s Pioneer and New Innovator Awards, given to scientists who use innovative and unconventional approaches to biomedical and behavioral research challenges.
The Pioneer Awards are open to scientists at any career stage. The New Innovator Awards are limited to investigators who have never received an R01 or similar grant.
Pioneer Awards provide up to $2.5 million in direct costs over five years. New Innovator Awards provide $1.5 million over five years. The NIH expects to make five to 10 Pioneer Awards and up to 24 New Innovator Awards in September 2008.
Application instructions to Pioneer Awards are available here. Applications will be accepted from Dec. 16, 2007, to Jan. 16, 2008.
Application instructions to the New Innovator Awards can be found here. Applications will be accepted from March 3 to March 31, 2008.

Bruker Selling Proxeon nano-LC
Bruker Daltonics announced this week it has entered into an original equipment manufacturer agreement to sell Proxeon’s Easy-nLC nanoscale chromatography system with Bruker’s mass spectrometers. The agreement is initially for Europe. Proxeon will also continue to sell the Easy-nLC.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

University of Aberdeen Receives Funding to Develop Peptide Microarrays
The Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept Program said this week that the University of Aberdeen received a £248,945 [$509,960] award to develop a synthetic peptide microarray as part of £3.3 million awarded to Scottish universities and research institutions.
The award is spread out over two years. The university will use the funds to develop a synthetic peptide microarray for antibody screening of blood samples “which could replace current screening methods which depend on human blood donations,” the Scottish Enterprise program said in a statement.
A total of 16 projects received funding during the eighth round of awards. Applications received for round nine of the awards are being assessed currently. The Programme was created in 1999 to address the lack of funding, public and private, available for the development of research concepts into commercial products and services. To date, the Scottish Enterprise program has invested £36.4 million in 201 projects.

EMBL to Luxembourg: You’re In
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory announced this week that Luxembourg became its 20th and newest member.
As a member, Luxembourg will contribute to EMBL’s five missions: to perform basic molecular biology research; to train scientists, students, and visitors at all levels; to offer vital services to scientists in the member countries; to develop new instruments and methods in the life sciences; and to actively engage in technology transfer activities.
In July, Australia joined EMBL as an associate member.

Fluorotechnics Buys ETC Electrophorese-Technik
Fluorotechnics this week said it has acquired ETC Elektrophorese-Technik. The companies did not disclose the price of the transaction, but under terms of the acquisition, Fluoretechnics will purchase all issued shares in ETC Elektrophorese-Technik in exchange for Fluorotechnics shares.
Fluorotechnics, based in Sydney, Australia, develops and manufactures fluorescent research tools. ETC Elektrophorese-Technik, based in Kirchentellinsfurt, Germany, develops and manufactures electrophoresis consumables and equipment.

Genedata Collaborates on Protein Drug Targets
Genedata said this week it is collaborating with Tokyo Medical University, AMR, and Leica Microsystems to identify metastatic biomarkers for the discovery and validation of new protein drug targets.
The project calls for proteins to be extracted from lung and endocrine carcinoma formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue collections and analyzed using MS methodologies. Genedata will provide its Expressionist modular enterprise system for biomarker discovery, and professional services.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Singulex to Develop Biomarker Assays with Wash. U Med School; Receives $900K NCI SBIR Grant for Another Assay Project
Singulex said this week that it and the Washington University School of Medicine will collaborate “to increase the clinical utility of both validated and recently discovered biomarkers in human disease.”
Researchers at Washington University will be part of Singulex’s Erenna Technology Access Program to develop biomarker assays for validated and putative biomarkers in disease areas such as breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and stroke. An Erenna system, Singulex’s flagship biomarker detection platform, has been installed in the university’s proteomics core facility.
Singulex also announced a $900,000 Phase I/II Fast Track Small Business Innovation Research contract with the National Cancer Institute to create biomarker assays to evaluate the efficacy of cancer therapies in development and patient response to them.
For the contract, Singulex will collaborate with Washington University and Sigma-Aldrich to develop assays to detect changes in expression levels for a panel of proteins associated with the growth of many cancers. The assays will be used to measure the efficacy of potential anticancer drugs earlier in the developmental process and patient response to new candidate therapeutic agents. The university will provide biological samples. Sigma-Aldrich will provide reagents.

First Beta Customer Signs on at Plexera
Plexera said this week an undisclosed “leading therapeutic antibody” has signed on as the first participant in Plexera’s Early Access Program.
The program allows prospective customers to evaluate the performance of the Plexera antibody discovery system over a defined period of time and provide user feedback. Participants are expected to purchase a system upon commercial launch.
A commercial version of the product is expected to launch in May 2008

Sigma-Aldrich Board Declares Dividend
This week, Sigma-Aldrich’s board declared a quarterly cash dividend of $.115 per share. The dividend is payable on Dec. 14 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 30.

Colon Cancer Dx Offered by Panacea
Panacea Pharmaceuticals said this week its CC Detect serum-based colon cancer diagnostic test is now available through its Panacea Laboratories.
The test measure levels of human aspartyl (asparaginyl) beta-hydroxylase, a cancer molecular marker in blood. According to the company, HAAH protein levels in serum have been shown to be highly sensitive and specific for a range of cancer types.
In July Panacea launched a test for lung cancer also based on HAAH. Panacea Laboratories is a division of Panacea and is CLIA certified.   

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.