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LSBC, Icon Genetics, Syn X Pharma, Shimadzu Biotech, Gyros, ActivX Biosciences, HTS Biosystems


LSBC and Icon Genetics to Produce Proteins in Ukraine

Large Scale Biology of Vacaville, Calif., Icon Genetics of Munich, and the government of Ukraine have signed an agreement to produce therapeutic proteins or vaccines in plants. Icon’s transgenic plant technology would be used by Ukrainian scientists to develop the plants producing the pharmaceutical proteins, while LSBC’s processing technology and biomanufacturing expertise would help in commercial-scale pharmaceutical-grade protein production. For LSBC, this agreement follows an announcement this summer of a collaboration to develop a plant-based AIDS and cervical cancer vaccine with South Africa’s University of Cape Town.


Syn X Pharma Reports Increasing Loss, Revenues, Expenses for Q3

Syn X Pharma of Toronto reported its results for the third quarter of 2002, which comply with Canadian General Accepted Accounting Principles. Its loss increased to CA$ 3 million ($1.92 million), compared to a loss of CA$1.7 million ($1.09 million) in the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter rose to CA$0.49 million ($0.31 million), compared to CA$0.35 million ($0.22 million) in the previous year’s quarter, resulting primarily from research contract services. R&D expenditures totaled CA$ 2.2 million ($1.4 million) in the third quarter, rising from CA$1.6 million ($1 million) year over year. These costs also increased for the first nine months, reflecting a doubling of the company’s scientific staff, increased operating costs of its new research facility, additional costs of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, and additional costs associated with the processing of patents. As of September 30, 2002, Syn X had working capital of approximately CA$2.0 million ($1.3 million) with cash resources totaling CA$2.5 million ($1.6 million). Syn X anticipates it will have sufficient cash resources to maintain its activities for the next two years, based on commercial contracts in place.

The company also recently introduced a diagnostic blood test for congestive heart failure that combines two biomarkers, a protein and a peptide. According to Syn X, these two predictors of cardiovascular outcome complement each other and result in a more reliable prognosis.


Shimadzu Biotech Provides Instruments to Charles River Proteomics Services Facility

Shimadzu Biotech said it will provide two instruments — an Axima CFR mass spectrometer and an Xcise gel-excision processor it developed with Proteome Systems — to Charles River Proteomics Services, the new proteomics testing and analysis services facility that is to be set up by Charles River Laboratories International and Proteome Systems.

Shimadzu Biotech and Proteome Systems have had a strategic technology development program for several years.


Gyros Opens Sales Office in Germany

As announced at an investor’s meeting in October, Gyros has opened a sales office in Germany. The new subsidiary, based in Munich, will support clients based in Germany and Austria. “The German-speaking region represents one of the largest life science markets in Europe,” said Per Sjoberg, executive vice president for commercial operations at Gyros, in a statement.

Gyros already has subsidiaries in the UK and the US. The company sells compact disk-shaped microfluidics chips that miniaturize and integrate sample preparation steps for proteomics.


ActivX Biosciences Receives Investment from Kyorin Pharmaceuticals

ActivX Biosciences, a La Jolla, Calif-based biotechnology company, has received an equity investment from Tokyo-based Kyorin Pharmaceuticals. This brings Kyorin’s total investment, excluding clinical milestone payments and royalties, to nearly $8 million.

ActivX and Kyorin collaborate on finding drug candidates for type II diabetes, using, among other techniques, ActivX’s proprietary protein activity-based analysis and identification platforms. ActivX uses chemical probes, integrated with a high-throughput protein analysis platform, to interrogate the activities of proteins in all ranges of abundance in any biological sample, a process it has termed chemo-proteomics.


HTS Biosystems, Ciencia Share $600K NASA Grant for Zero-Gravity Proteomics

NASA has awarded HTS Biosystems and Ciencia $600,000 to develop space-bound protein analysis technology. The Phase II grant, which is part of NASA’s Cellular Biotechnology Program, will help HTS Biosystems and Ciencia develop a proteomics biosensor chip array integrated into a microfluidics cartridge.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center oversees the Space Station Cellular Biotechnology Program, which aims at conducting cell-biology research in a microgravity environment.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.