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INCAPS, Sanger Institute, Caliper, Sartorius, ProMetic, InforSense, and Matrix Science, Abcam, Affibody, Sigma-Aldrich, Beckman Coulter, NIGMS, Jackson Lab, Galapagos, Arthrogen, MDS, FDA


INCAPS, Four Pharmas Form Neuroproteomics Consortium; Cancer Project to Follow

INCAPS — the Indiana Centers for Applied Protein Sciences — and four unnamed pharmaceutical companies have formed a consortium to explore the effect of disease and drug reaction in the central nervous system, INCAPS said this week.

The fee-for-service research organization said that the focus of the project, called the Neuroproteomics Consortium, is to study neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, but that future consortiums on disease areas such as cancer are being planned.

Laurie Caviston, INCAPS' vice president of business development, sales and marketing, said that the consortium is a self-funded group, and that the projects will take advantage of commercially available mass spectrometry technology.

Caviston declined to provide GenomeWeb News with the identities of the pharmaceutical companies involved, but said that the consortium could make a formal announcement later this month.

Sanger Institute Buys a Caliper LabChip Unit for Protein Expression Project QC

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has purchased a Caliper LabChip 90 Automated Electrophoresis System for quality control of DNA and proteins in Sanger's Atlas of Protein Expression project, Caliper said this week.

Specifically, the Sanger Institute will use the LabChip 90 system to generate quantitative sizing, concentration, and purity data for PCR products, expressed proteins, and antibodies used in immunohistochemistry experiments, Caliper said.

Financial details were not disclosed.

The goal of the Atlas of Protein Expression project is to systematically study protein expression in cells and tissues to create a database of protein-expression profiles that will be accessible to researchers worldwide.

Sartorius and ProMetic to Supply, Develop Plasma Protein-Separation Technology

Sartorius and ProMetic BioTherapeutics, a subsidiary of ProMetic Life Sciences, will jointly supply and develop technology for separate proteins from blood plasma, the companies said this week.

ProMetic, based in Montreal, Canada, has been licensing its plasma protein-purification technology to the blood industry. Under the agreement, Sartorius of Göttingen, Germany, will supply licensees of ProMetic's technology with filtration equipment and consumables as a "preferred supplier and technology provider," according to the companies.

In addition, the two partners will co-develop ligand-membrane composites for the isolation of proteins from blood plasma and other sources, based on ProMetic's Mimetic Ligand technology and Sartorius' membrane chromatography technology, Sartobind.

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the agreement.

InforSense and Matrix Science to Integrate Products for Proteomic Analysis

InforSense and Matrix Science will integrate their products for proteomic analysis, the companies said this week.

Under the agreement, the companies will integrate Matrix Science's Mascot search tool and data-management product, Mascot Integra, and InforSense's workflow-based integrative analytics platform, InforSense KDE.

The result will be an extended environment for flexible, ad hoc querying of high volumes of proteomics data, according to Matrix Science CEO John Cottrell.

Abcam to Distribute Affinity Reagents for Affibody

Antibody provider Abcam of Cambridge, UK, will distribute affinity ligands for Affibody, the companies said this week.

Under the agreement, Abcam will market Affibody's affinity research reagents in its online catalog. Affibody is based in Stockholm.

Sigma-Aldrich Acquires Chinese Distributor, Expands in Shanghai

Sigma-Aldrich has increased its Shanghai operations and acquired Beijing Superior Chemicals and Instruments, the company said this week.

The acquisition of Beijing Superior — Sigma's main distributor in China with locations in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou — will increase the number of Sigma employees in China almost 10-fold, to 87. Since 75 percent of Beijing Superior's $22 million in annual revenues result from Sigma products, the acquisition will not immediately impact Sigma's sales in China.

Sigma said it has also established a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise, called Sigma-Aldrich (Shanghai) Trading Company; expanded its administrative offices in Shanghai; and opened a leased transit warehouse in Shanghai.

The company's expansion in China follows that of PerkinElmer, which opened a new technology center in Shanghai in late February.

"We've enjoyed spectacular growth since opening our representative office in Shanghai in 2002," said Eric Green, Sigma's vice president of international sales and operations, in a company statement. "Our ability to now provide sales, marketing, and distribution capabilities locally holds great promise for continuing that rapid growth for years to come."

Beckman Coulter and Canadian Researchers to Co-Develop Tests for Transplantation

Beckman Coulter and the Research in Immune Tolerance and Transplantation program, a $10-million initiative funded by the Canadian government and others, will jointly conduct research to develop tests for use in transplantation, the company said this week.

Under the two-year agreement, Beckman will support a postdoctoral scientist, provide funding for new reagent combinations, sponsor symposiums and workshops, and help the RITT program to secure additional funding.

In return, Beckman will receive first rights to new discoveries resulting from the collaboration. RITT will also acquire over $1 million worth of separation and analysis equipment from Beckman.

The research will be conducted at the RITT Industrial Biodevelopment Laboratory at the Toronto General Hospital in Canada.

NIGMS Awards Jackson Lab $15.1M to Create Systems Biology Center

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences said this week that it has awarded a team at the Jackson Laboratory $15.1 million under its National Centers for Systems Biology program.

The five-year award follows a $16.3 million grant that NIGMS awarded to the Institute for Systems Biology under the same program earlier this month.

NIGMS said has funded five other systems biology centers over the last four years at Case Western Reserve University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and the University of Washington.

The Jackson Lab will use the funding to create a Genome Dynamics center, which will study how patterns of genetic variation emerge and persist over time. The center will collect genetic information from more than 200 inbred strains of mice and will study expression patterns to identify co-expressed genes, examine how these patterns evolved, and investigate how the overall genome organization affects phenotype, NIGMS said

Gary Churchill, senior staff scientist at the Jackson Lab, is the principal investigator on the grant.

Galapagos and Arthrogen Pen Rheumatoid Arthritis Gene Therapy Target-Discovery Deal

Galapagos has signed a three-year agreement with Arthrogen to discover gene therapy targets related to rheumatoid arthritis, Galapagos said last week.

Under the terms of the agreement, Galapagos' service division, BioFocus, will discover, characterize, and validate candidate protein targets in return for an upfront payment, R&D funding, and milestone payments provided by Arthrogen, the companies said.

Total revenues associated with a qualifying target may exceed €7.5 million ($9 million), the companies added.

Arthrogen is a joint venture of the Dubai Bone & Joint Center and the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam.

MDS to Wind Down Mass Spec and LC Operations in Montreal to Hasten FDA Investigation

MDS will voluntarily and temporarily wind down all its commercial bioanalytical liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry operations in Montreal in order to accelerate a review by the US Food and Drug Administration, the company announced last week.

MDS received a letter from the FDA shortly after the end of the second quarter of 2004 that brought up issues with a bioequivalence study conducted in the company's Montreal facility in 2001. In response to the letter, MDS embarked upon a retrospective review of bioanalytical studies conducted in the facility from 2000 through 2004.

A recent audit by the FDA identified a number of issues pertaining to the effectiveness and management of MDS' five-year review.

"I am disappointed that we have not made progress at the rate necessary on this review," said Stephen DeFalco, president and CEO of MDS. "We are enhancing the leadership and project management of this effort in order to complete this review to the FDA's satisfaction. Finalizing this effort in a high quality way is the top priority for the company."

Commercial activities will continue in MDS' other bioanalytical sites in Lincoln, Neb.; Blainville, Quebec; Zurich; and Sittingbourne, UK, the company said.

The Scan

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.

Analysis of Endogenous Parvoviral Elements Found Within Animal Genomes

Researchers at PLOS Biology have examined the coevolution of endogenous parvoviral elements and animal genomes to gain insight into using the viruses as gene therapy vectors.

Saliva Testing Can Reveal Mosaic CNVs Important in Intellectual Disability

An Australian team has compared the yield of chromosomal microarray testing of both blood and saliva samples for syndromic intellectual disability in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.