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Industry Briefs: Feb 19, 2009


Proactive Formed for Cancer Biomarker Platform

A new European consortium has been formed to develop a platform for detecting protein-based disease biomarkers.

Called Proactive, the consortium comprises six industry and academic institution partners and is coordinated by Olink Bioscience, based in Uppsala, Sweden.

The goal of Proactive is to develop high-throughput proximity ligation assays for protein detection based on Olink's proprietary technology. In addition, the three-year project, funded by a €3 million [$3.8 million] grant from the European Commission, will develop methods and reagents, as well as statistics and data management tools.

Proactive will initially focus on biomarkers for colorectal cancer. A pilot project is expected to begin in a few months, Simon Fredriksson, CSO of Olink and the coordinator of Proactive, told ProteoMonitor. Olink's technology is currently has 10-plex capability, but at the end of the project, Frederiksson said he hopes it will be have 50-plex throughput.

The other members of the consortium are Innova Biosciences, Integromics, Uppsala Academic Hospital, the University of Copenhagen, and Fujirebio Diagnostics.

$37M to Fund Newly Named PSI:Biology Program

The National Institutes of Health plans to support research partnerships between biologists and high-throughput structure determination centers involved in biomedical research through the newly-named Protein Structure Initiative's PSI:Biology program, which is run by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

NIGMS will back this new focus for the initiative with $37 million in fiscal 2010 for research programs in five, and eventually a total of eight, different component areas.
The PSI, which began in 2000, is a federal, university, and industry effort started with the plans of dramatically reducing the costs and lessening the time required to determine a three-dimensional protein structure.

"This is a natural evolution for the PSI," NIGMS Director Jeremy Berg said in a statement.

"The previous phases of the initiative developed a very efficient high-throughput structure determination pipeline along with other technologies to study the relationships between protein sequences and structures. Now, we want to foster the use of these technologies to explore a broad range of important biomedical research questions," Berg continued.

NIGMS said that in April it will begin issuing requests for applications for the first five components.

These programs will include high-throughput structure determination centers that will aim to solve community-nominated sets of protein structures, consortia of scientists that will work with the structure determination centers to solve biological problems that require the solution of many protein structures, and centers focused on determining membrane protein structures of great biological interest and on developing new methods to make these structures more amenable to high-throughput determination.

In addition, NIGMS will seek applications for the PSI-SG Knowledgebase, which will continue to coordinate activities across the research network and solicit community-nominated targets, and the PSI-SG Materials Repository, which will centralize, maintain, store, and distribute vectors and clones generated by PSI-supported researchers.

NIGMS also plans to issue program announcements for technology development for structure determination, new methods for protein modeling, and additional partnerships with members of the broader community.

So far, PSI-supported researchers have generated more then 3,500 structures, some of which have been commercialized and have been reported in more than 1,200 research papers.

PBI Raises $1.8M in Private Placement

Pressure BioSciences this week announced it raised $1.8 million for the sale of 156,980 units in a private placement that closed on Feb. 12.

Each unit was priced at $11.50 and consisted of shares of stock and warrants.

The company also said that an unnamed firm placed $200,000 with PBI as a down payment for anticipated future purchases of PBI's pressure cycling technology instrument and consumables.

In a statement, Richard Schumacher, president and CEO of PBI, said the funds will allow the firm to pursue its goals for 2009 and 2010, including a "sharpened focus" on mass spectrometry, and "a sales effort focused on additional but specific PCT product areas where market penetration and customer purchases have begun, primarily in biomarker discovery, soil and plant biology, counter-bioterror applications, and tissue pathology."

Late last year, the company went through a restructuring due to difficulty finding investments [See PM 12/04/08].

Applied Biomics Offering Full-line Proteomics Services

Applied Biomics said this week it has expanded its service line to include full-line proteomics services.

Services available range from sample preparation to the generation of data for publication.

Applied Biomics, based in Hayward, Calif., uses proprietary sample prep protocols for protein extraction from cell lines, tissues, serum, and other body fluids. Proteins are extracted by 2D-DIGE then analyzed by mas