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Frost & Sullivan, NCI/NIGMS/NHGRI Brainstorm, BioForce, Advion Biosciences


Protein Microarrays Are Looking Lucrative, Says Frost & Sullivan 

Despite a number of challenges, protein arrays have a rosy future, according to a recent report on the world protein array market by Frost & Sullivan. The market will grow from $41 million in 2001 to more than $660 million in 2007, the company predicted.

Compared to DNA microarray companies, firms in the protein array business face additional technical challenges, owing to the diversity of proteins, capture methods, and the difficulty of keeping proteins functional on surfaces, said Eric Gay, lead analyst on Frost & Sullivan’s proteomics market service, in a conference call last week. As a result of the large number of proteins, open platforms are most likely to emerge in the short term. However, proof-of-concept studies are needed to convince end users of the value of protein arrays.

The report divides the market into consumables and instruments and predicts that the latter will create about twice as much revenue as the former. Business models range from companies concentrating on one aspect of the technology, such as surfaces, to companies developing comprehensive platforms. Both require partnership with protein content providers. Since many companies in the protein-chip market are young, they face marketing and technical support challenges in addition to technical ones.

But Frost & Sullivan sees widespread applications for protein arrays at various stages of drug development and in discovery of biomarkers associated with disease. “Thus this market, while facing considerable challenges in the short run, is poised for significant growth,” said Gay.

The report includes the Biacore and Ciphergen technologies as well as bead-based systems. In addition to technology providers, 14 end users were surveyed.


NCI/NIGMS/NHGRI Brainstorm on How to Fund Proteomics 

On April 25 and 26, the National Cancer Institute, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences held a joint “proteomics planning workshop” with about 100 participants. The aim of the meeting was to get input from researchers on how the three institutes might best invest in proteomics research. The 27 invited speakers and commentators included Steven Clarke of UCLA, Erin O’Shea of UCSF, Gavin MacBeath of Harvard University, Louis Staudt of the NCI, Timothy Buchman of Washington University in St. Louis, Lance Liotta of the NCI, Peer Bork of EMBL, Michael Snyder of Yale University, and Ruedi Aebersold of the Institute for Systems Biology. Some of the questions discussed were important proteomic problems to be solved, what key technologies need to be developed, and what problem would be most amenable to a large-scale effort. The workshop was not intended to result in recommendations for specific initiatives, but to provide a broad idea of what might be needed in the field over the next decade. A report of the meeting is expected to be published in a few months.


BioForce Gets Contract to Develop NCI/FDA Proteomics screening Chip

  BioForce Nanosciences has teamed up with the joint NCI/FDA clinical proteomics program to develop a proteomics-based drug screening assay for pre-malignant cancer, the company said last week. Together, the two groups plan to adapt the reverse-phase protein microarray technology to BioForce’s NanoArray platform, an ultraminiaturized assay platform that currently relies on atomic force microscopy to detect interactions on the array. As part of the partnership, Ames, Iowa-based BioForce and the NCI/FDA group will assess the performance of the NanoArray platform for profiling proteins from human tissue biopsy samples and monitoring therapy during clinical trials.


Advion biosciences Raises $15M to Commercialize NanoMate nozzle 

Advion Biosciences has raised $15 million in a private offering of stock, the Ithaca, NY-based company said last week. Skyline Ventures and the Perseus-Soros BioPharmaceutical Fund led the series B investment round, with additional funding from Polaris Venture Partners and Soros Private Equity Partners. The company plans to use the money to develop infrastructure and commercialize its NanoMate nanoelectrospray nozzle, a 100-nozzle array that individually injects samples from a 96-well plate into a variety of mass spectrometers. The private capital represents Advion’s first equity funding since 1993, when the company was founded as a contract research provider to pharmaceutical companies.

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