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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Shimadzu, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute MD Anderson Cancer Center, Aureon, Luxembourg, Institute for Systems Biology, Inforsense, Biobase, Pfizer, Ariadne, Gentag, Macroarray, Proteome Sys

Hutch, Shimadzu to Develop MS-based Technology for Cancer Research
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Shimadzu announced a collaboration last week to develop new mass spectrometry-based technology platforms for the detection and analyses of proteins and peptides associated with cancer.
The goal of the collaboration is “to develop, enhance, and apply innovative multi-dimensional analytical platforms to overcome both the sample complexity issues and the technology limitations” of existing mass specs, the company said in a statement.
Officials from Shimadzu declined to elaborate on the technology to be developed, but Scott Kuzdzal, life sciences business leader for the company said in an e-mail to ProteoMonitor that Koichi Tanaka, a Shimadzu researcher and the 2002 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, “is working closely with researchers at the Fred Hutch to develop and apply new chromatography and mass spectrometry platforms to disease detection and analysis.”
At Pittcon earlier this year, Shimadzu launched a revamped line of mass specs and other proteomics-directed instruments as part of the company’s new heightened foray into the life science market [See PM 03/06/08].
Sam Hanash, head of the Molecular Diagnostics Program at the Hutch and who will be leading its work on the collaboration, also declined to comment further on the deal.

NIH Rejiggers Peer Review System
Capping off a year-long effort, the National Institutes of Health last week unveiled changes to its peer-review system, including a $1 billion, five-year commitment to investigator-initiated high-risk, high-impact transformative research.
The agency’s Implementation Plan Report consists of four main priorities to further acknowledge reviewer efforts and compensate them for their time and effort; support a minimum number of early-stage investigators and investigators new to NIH “and emphasize retrospective accomplishments of experienced investigators; and reduce the burden of multiple rounds of resubmissions for the same application.
The plan includes a new investigator-initiated Transformative R01 Award program funded with the NIH Roadmap at a minimum of $250 million over five years. The Pioneer, EUREKA, and New Innovator Awards will be continued and possibly expanded. NIH will commit at least $750 million in the three programs during the next five years, the agency said in a statement.
“As we contemplated possible changes, we were guided by several fundamental principles,” Elias Zerhouni, the director of NIH said. “First, while improving the system, do no harm … Second, continue to maximize the freedom of scientists to pursue high-risk, high-impact research. Moreover, we want to cultivate a sense that we continuously re-evaluate the peer review system to ensure that it is the best that it can be.”

PRIDE Continues at NCI
The National Cancer Institute is continuing its support for a program under which cancer researchers can receive assistance in conducting validations of biomarker programs.
The NCI said this week that the goal of the Program for Rapid, Independent Diagnostic Evaluation, or PRIDE, is to help researchers advance biomarkers from the lab to clinically viable tests through cross-laboratory validation. The PRIDE program’s efforts include the development, refinement, and use of assays, reagents, methods, and tests.
The PRIDE program is part of the NCI’s Early Detection Research Network. The EDRN began in 2000 to help investigators with rapid evaluation of the reproducibility, portability, and precision of their technologies and biomarker assays. It will be supported by NCI for another year, according to Donald Johnsey of the NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention.

MD Anderson, Aureon Ink Biomarker Deal
A University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center researcher will use Aureon Laboratories’ systems pathology platform to quantitate and evaluate biomarkers associated with lung cancer progression and overall survival, the company announced this week.
Under the collaborative agreement, Ignacio Wistuba, an associate professor of pathology at MD Anderson, will use Aureon’s system to analyze tissues from approximately 350 non-small cell lung cancer patients.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Aureon’s platform applies morphometric imaging to formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tisuees samplies, “enabling quantitation and integration of histological attributes and multiplexed protein biomarkers on a cell-by-cell basis,” the company said in a statement. It also has developed an algorithm that integrates histological, molecular, and clinical features “to establish a comprehensive biometric signature associated with patient outcome.”

Luxembourg Initiative Calls on ISB’s Proteomics Know-How
A new initiative spearheaded by the government of Luxembourg to create a bioscience enter of excellence will include a proteomics-related project for the development of diagnostics.
The Partnership for Personalized Medicine, the Institute for Systems Biology, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute were tapped to help develop the center. Luxembourg will invest more than $200 million into the project, which it hopes will “accelerate the global pace and integration of biomedical research, education, and commercial development around the world,” according to a statement from its government.
The initiative announced last week consists of three interrelated research initiatives: creation of the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg, launch of the Luxembourg Project Lung Cancer, and creation of the Center for Systems Biology Luxembourg.
The last initiative includes two major projects, including one to develop an integrated proteomics, RNA , and cell analysis methodology and tools based on ISB’s discovery of protein biomarkers and single-cell characteristics. The research could lead to new diagnostics for the discovery, monitoring, and treatment of diseases.
Before that, there will be a project to complete a personalized human genome sequencing map on a minimum of 100 subjects and development of new methods for understanding the role of genetic variations on diseases.

Inforsense Open Workflow Partner Network Now Includes Biobase
Shared customers will have access to Biobase’s Proteome and other Knowledge Library products under a partnership announced this week between it and InforSense.
Through InforSense, common customers will also have access to Biobase’s Transfac, and Transpath products and ExPlain for the analysis of high-throughput gene expression data for systems biology research and biomarker discovery. Access to such products is within the context of of the InformSense workflow analytics platform.
Financial terms were not disclosed.

Pfizer Licenses Ariadne’s Software Suite
Ariadne said last week that Pfizer has purchased a multi-site license for the Pathway Studio Enterprise software.
The drug firm will use it to assemble reference networks of biological interactions “from internal and public data resources for interpretation of experimental results throughout its research facilities,” according to a statement by Ariadne.
Terms of the agreement were not released.

Gentag, MacroArray Team Up for Wireless Prostate Dx
Gentag and MacroArray Technologies will co-develop a wireless diagnostic test for prostate cancer, under a collaboration announced this week.
Under the deal, Gentag’s cell phone-sensor technology will be coupled with MacroArray’s proteomics discovery technology “to create a series of new, patient-friendly, disposable wireless diagnostic tests,” the first of which will be for prostate cancer, the companies said in a statement.
The test is urine-based. Antibodies in the strip test will react to antigens in the urine. The data will then be sensed by an imbedded electronic tag and communicated to a cell phone or PDA that will process the data and transmit the results to a doctor.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Proteome Systems Licenses Software, Database to Agilent for Glycoprotein Research
Australian firm Proteome Systems licensed its GlycomIQ software and GlycoSuiteDB database to Agilent Technologies last month.
Under the terms of the agreement, Agilent has the right to further develop and sell GlycomIQ and GlycoSuiteDB and use the products for internal development. In return Proteome Systems receives a royalty stream from any product sales made by Agilent. It also receives a high-performance Agilent mass spectrometer and HPLC-Chip Cube for its biomarker discovery platform.
The two companies have been collaborating for the past three years on glycomics and glycoprotein-based biomarker research to develop new workflow solutions for mass spectrometric analysis of glycoproteins, Proteome Systems said in a statement.

Pittcon 2009 on the Web
The Pittsburgh Conference launched its 2009 website,, with information about the conference happening in Chicago March 8-13.
Details about the conference’s technical program, short courses, registration, and exposition will be posted as they become available.

The Scan

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.

Tibetan Study Finds Adaptive Variant Influencing Skin Pigmentation

With a combination of phenotyping and genetic data, researchers document at PNAS a Tibetan-enriched enhancer variant influencing melanin synthesis and ultraviolet light response.

Domestication Linked to Nervous System Genes in Inbred Mouse Strains

Researchers highlighted more than 300 positively selected genes in domesticated mice, including genes linked to nervous system function or behavior in Genome Biology.

ALS Genetic Testing May Be Informative Across Age Ranges, Study Finds

Researchers in the journal Brain identified clinically actionable variants in a significant subset of older ALS patients, prompting them to point to the potential benefits of broader test use.