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Industry Briefs: Jan 15, 2009

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Tyrian Achieves Milestone in TB Dx Development Deal with BD

Tyrian Diagnostics said last week that it has been able to detect proprietary proteins for tuberculosis in a feasibility study and has developed methods for sample preparation and testing suitable for use in the field.

As a result it has completed the fourth milestone of a collaboration with Becton Dickinson.

However, the company was not able to develop a protein assay that can detect its lead marker at desired specificity and sensitivity levels.

In the study, Tyrian, formerly called Proteome Systems, was able to detect its lead marker in clinical strains of the bacteria responsible for TB and in clinical sputum samples. But in order for the marker — an essential TB protein, meaning it is present in all cases of active TB — to have use in a protein assay, "further technical development of the assay, as well as analysis of a greater number of clinical samples," will be needed, the company said in a statement.

In an adjunct study, the same marker was also found to be potentially developable as a molecular diagnostic assay.

Tyrian and BD announced their TB collaboration in July 2007 to co-develop and market point-of-care diagnostics for the detection of the disease.


Forma, Novartis Reach PPI Inhibitor Development Deal

Forma Therapeutics will develop inhibitors for an undisclosed protein-protein interaction associated with cancer under a licensing agreement with Novartis announced this week.

The agreement was reached through the Novartis Option Fund and includes an upfront fee and potential milestones totaling more than $200 million as well as royalties.

The collaboration will provide "important validation to Forma's unique approach to drug discovery for challenging targets," Steven Tregay, CEO of Forma, said in a statement. The company's technology capability includes a cell-based platform, which allows for the screening of discrete targets and cells in quantitative proteome- and genome-wide profiling and target profiling.

The Novartis Option Fund is a $200 million fund, which is part of Novartis Venture Funds. The fund was established in 1996 and manages more than $550 million currently in committed capital. The fund seeds innovative companies by financing their initial investments.


CombiMatrix Nets $1.5M in Securities Sale

CombiMatrix said last week that all of its $1.5 million worth of auction rate securities were recently liquidated.

Last year, the Mukilteo, Wash.-based firm said that those securities had become illiquid due to the global financial credit crisis. CombiMatrix is one of many firms that faced similar losses as the auction rate security market froze.

However, several investment banks that had participated in the distribution of auction rate securities agreed last year to buy back billions of dollars worth of the debt instruments.

Amit Kumar, president and CEO of CombiMatrix, said in a statement that the firm would use the $1.5 million to expand its diagnostics business.

The Scan

Call to Look Again

More than a dozen researchers penned a letter in Science saying a previous investigation into the origin of SARS-CoV-2 did not give theories equal consideration.

Not Always Trusted

In a new poll, slightly more than half of US adults have a great deal or quite a lot of trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hill reports.

Identified Decades Later

A genetic genealogy approach has identified "Christy Crystal Creek," the New York Times reports.

Science Papers Report on Splicing Enhancer, Point of Care Test for Sexual Transmitted Disease

In Science this week: a novel RNA structural element that acts as a splicing enhancer, and more.