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Industry Briefs: Manitoba Proteomics, MDS, Ciphergen, Eksigent, Myriad, Cytyc


Update: Manitoba Proteomics Researchers Publish Analysis of SARS Virus Proteins

A week after the genome sequence of the SARS coronavirus was made public, ProteoMonitor reported that scientists at the University of Manitoba had already been analyzing two of the viral proteins by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry (see PM 04-21-03).

Last week, they published their results online in a scientific journal (Krokhin et al., Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, May 29, 2003, 10.1074/mcp.M300048-MCP200), providing the first description of two viral proteins that were predicted by the genome sequence. The 46kDa and 139kDa proteins turned out to be the predicted nucleocapsid protein and spike glycoprotein of the virus. The nucleocapsid protein was detected by convalescent sera from several SARS patients in supernatants from cells containing the virus.

Besides identifying the proteins, the researchers also confirmed 12 glycosylation sites in the spike glycoprotein. Glycosylation of this protein “is likely to play a key role in attachment of the virus to the cell surface receptors, and therefore may have important therapeutic applications,” the scientists write in the article. The nucleocapsid protein, a strong immunogen, may be useful for early diagnostics, they suggest.


MDS Reports Loss, Revenue Increase for Q2

MDS of Toronto reported CA$458 million ($342 million) in revenues for the second quarter of 2003, a small increase over the CA$448 million ($334.6 million) it took in during same period last year.

Losses amounted to CA$5 million ($3.7 million), compared to a net income of CA$32 million ($23.9 million) last year. Losses resulted from a CA$75 million ($56 million) write-down of investments that had permanently declined in value. This was partly offset by CA$39 million ($29.1 million) in net proceeds this quarter from the Micromass patent infringement award that was announced last year. Revenues in the Life Sciences segment, which includes MDS Sciex, increased to CA$277 million ($206.9 million) from CA$272 million ($203.1 million) last year. CA$70 million ($52.3 million) of that derived from sales of analytical instruments, led by an increase in sales of the company’s API 3,000, API 4,000, Q-Trap, and QStar mass spectrometers.

MDS Proteomics, which is majority-owned by MDS, had no revenues for the quarter, and an operating loss of CA$7 million ($5.2 million). Spending was lower than previously, reflecting prior reductions in operations. In addition, MDSP reduced operations further at certain of its facilities in the second quarter.


Ciphergen’s Technology: Licensed by TML, Used by SARS Researchers

Ciphergen Biosystems of Fremont, Calif., said this week that Toronto Medical Laboratories is using its technology to develop protein biomarkers to be used in commercial diagnostic tests. Ciphergen has granted TML two licenses to perform paid clinical diagnostic tests using its platform. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

TML, established in 1995, is a joint venture between the University Health Network and MDS that performs more than 9 million diagnostic tests every year. The McLaughlin Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Toronto, a partnership of five Toronto teaching centers, is an equal partner with TML in this investment and will share the use of Ciphergen’s technology. Possible projects include studies on large organ transplant rejection markers, early diagnosis of endometrial, thyroid, and lung cancer, and the identification of predictors of response to novel therapeutic agents in colon cancer, leukemia, and myeloma.

Separately, Ciphergen said this week that several research groups, including Health Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, the Beijing Clinical SARS Testing Center, and the Genomic Institute of Singapore are using its technology to look for protein biomarkers associated with SARS, with the goal of developing a rapid diagnostic test. A number of potential biomarkers have already been discovered in SARS patient samples, according to Ciphergen. These are now being identified and further evaluated.

MDS Sciex and Eksigent Technologies Sign Marketing Agreement

Toronto-based MDS Sciex, the analytical instrumentation division of MDS, and Eksigent Technologies, a microfluidics company based in Livermore, Calif., said this week that they will globally co-market and distribute Eksigent’s new NanoLC nanoscale LC/MS system (see page 2).


F&S Report: European Proteomics Mass Spec Market to Grow

Sales of four types of mass spectrometers for life science applications resulted in revenues of $256.3 million in Europe last year, according to a new study by Frost & Sullivan. The report predicts that this market will grow to $614.5 million by 2009. However, uncertain public and private funding, consolidations in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as inadequacies of current bioinformatics software are depressing growth of the proteomics mass spectrometry market, according to the report.


Myriad Proteomics Chooses TimeLogic’s DeCypher for Data Analysis

Myriad Proteomics of Salt Lake City said this week that it has purchased a DeCypher bioinformatics system from TimeLogic. Myriad will use the field programmable gate array-based system to analyze protein interaction data from yeast-two-hybrid and mass spectrometry experiments.


Cytyc and Northeastern University Pen Research Agreement

Cytyc of Boxborough, Mass., said this week that it has signed a collaborative sponsored research agreement with Northeastern University to study breast cancer markers in ductal lavage fluid collected with its FirstCyte breast test.

Cytyc will sponsor research programs with the Barnett Institute at Northeastern, led by researchers Barry Karger and William Hancock.


Michigan Proteome Consortium Receives $2.1M in Funding

Last week, the Michigan Proteome Consortium, led by University of Michigan biological chemistry professor Phil Andrews, received $2.1 million in additional funding from the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor.

The Corridor has awarded a total of $30 million, allocated from the state’s tobacco settlement money, to life sciences this year.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.