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GenData Research, Batelle, Exelixis, Invitrogen, Matritech, Syrrx, Biogen Idec, Auvation, ExpressOn Biosystems, Blueprint Initiative, US National Institutes of Health


GenData and Battelle to Collaborate on Biomarkers for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

GenData Research and Batelle announced yesterday that they have entered into a collaboration to identify, develop, and commercialize biomarkers for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease that is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the cause of 2.9 million deaths worldwide every year.

Using mass spectrometry and NMR techniques, as well as phenotyping and genotyping techniques, the companies plan to do a comprehensive analysis of protein and metabolite markers taken from patients with COPD and matched control patients. The goal of the analysis is to be able to identify underlying factors associated with the disease, which the companies said could lead to better diagnostic and therapeutic treatments.

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, GenData collaborates with the University of Utah to do genetic studies on human populations. Batelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, manages four US national research laboratories and develops technology for government and industry.

The companies did not disclose financial terms of their agreement.

Exelixis to Use Invitrogen’s Assays for Drug Discovery

Invitrogen said last week that it will provide Exelixis with validated high-throughput screening assays for drug discovery in single live cells, which Exelixis will use for lead discovery and optimization.

Carlsbad, Calif.-based Invitrogen said that its Drug Discovery Solutions group would provide Exelixis with its GeneBlazer and Voltage Sensor Probe technologies for compound screening. The GeneBlazer cell-based beta-lactamase system combines molecular and cellular biology with a fluorescence resonance energy transfer-based detection method for high-throughput screening experiments.

Invitrogen recently announced that the GeneBlazer and Voltage Sensor Probe technologies would be available for purchase by researchers without a licensing agreement.

Matritech Launches New Website; Promotes Sales of FDA-Approved Bladder Cancer Products

Matritech, a developer of protein-based diagnostics products for early detection of cancer, announced last week that it has launched its new website at

Designed by Boston-based Weymouth Design, Matritech’s new website provides updated information on the company’s products that are in development and on the market, and allows physicians to order Matritech’s NMP22 BladderChek Test online.

Matritech’s first two products, the NMP22 BladderChek test and NMP22 test kit, have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the monitoring and diagnosis of bladder cancer. Aside from developing products for bladder cancer, the company has also used its proteomics technology to discover proteins associated with cervical, prostate, breast and colon cancer.

Syrrx Closes Collaboration with Biogen Idec After Receiving Second and Third Milestone Payments

Drug discovery company Syrrx announced that it has closed its collaboration with Biogen Idec after receiving the second and third success-based milestone payments from the company.

The company received its first success-based payment from Biogen Idec on May 27.

According to an agreement signed on Dec. 16, 2003, all success-based payments have now been completed.

Financial terms of the payments were not disclosed.

Syrrx said its collaboration with Biogen Idec allowed the company to apply its expertise in high-throughput protein crystallization to multiple drug targets that Biogen Idec has developed.

Stephen Kaldor, Syrrx’s president and chief scientific officer, said that collaboration between the two companies demonstrated that Syrrx can rapidly generate valuable structural data on challenging drug discovery targets.

“We look forward to exploring opportunities to expand our relationship with Biogen Idec in the future,” Kaldor said.

Auvation, ExpressOn Biosystems to Collborate in Developing Anti-Cancer Targets

Auvation, a Scottish company that focuses on developing biomarkers for tumors, and ExpressOn Biosystems, another Scotland-based company that focuses on the development of antisense RNA interference, have forged an agreement to collaborate in developing targets for cancer therapy, Auvation officials announced last week.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to the agreement, Auvation will provide up to 20 targets from their cancer market portfolio, and ExpressOn will use its ACCESSarray technology to determine regions on the corresponding RNA molecules that are optimally accessible to silencing reagents, which shut off the production of a target protein.

Auvation officials said their company will make upfront payments in return for access to ExpressOn’s ACCESSarray technology.

Blueprint Surpasses Interaction Database Milestone, Reaching Almost 100,000 Records

The Blueprint Initiative research program announced this week that it has surpassed its milestone for submissions to its Biomolecular Interaction Network Database, reaching almost 100,000 records a full year ahead of schedule.

Blueprint’s BIND database for molecular interaction is being constructed from direct submissions by independent researchers, as well as through the curation of peer-reviewed literature (see PM 8/6/04).

“Reaching this goal so quickly exceeds our most optimistic targets for Blueprint and BIND,” Christopher Hogue, the project’s leader at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, said in a statement. “Surpassing our milestone silences our critics who claim our curation process is too heavy-weight to be efficient.”

Blueprint recently expanded its operations to include a new office in London, in addition to offices in Toronto and Singapore.

National Institute of Health Issues Request For applications for Proteomics Research

The US National Institutes of Health issued an RFA last week to develop novel, broadly applicable proteomics technologies, including instrumentation, biophysical methods, reagents and infrastructure technologies. The RFA is entitled National Technology Centers for Networks and Pathways.

The technologies should be specifically directed at acquiring quantitative subcellular information and biologically relevant timescales necessary for temporal and spatial characterization of complex biochemical pathways and molecular interactions. The methods should not only catalogue proteins and their binary interactions — they should go on to quantitatively define the dynamics of complex systems.

“Proteomics experiments have consistently been characterized as falling into two broad classes, either directed at defining the physical interactions of proteins, or concerned with characterizing changes in the expression of proteins corresponding to internal or external perturbations of cells or systems,” the RFA stated. “We feel it is necessary to begin a concentrated effort to develop and integrate a series of technologies orthogonal to these fundamental tools. These additional technologies should address the problems of temporal and spatial dynamics of protein function and interaction, and they should do so quantitatively.”

The maximum amount of funds that can be re quested through the RFA is $2 million per year, the NIH stated. Applicants who request $500,000 or more in direct costs per year must include a data-sharing plan in their application.

The deadline for RFA letters of intent is Jan 18, 2005, and the deadline for applications is Feb. 22, 2005.

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.