MelTec Wins Euro 2.3M Grant to Study the Toponome
German proteomics firm MelTec said last week that it had secured a Euro 2.3 million government grant to create a multi-disciplinary research group to study protein network hierarchies in cells.
The company will use the grant, provided by the German Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research, and Technology, known as BMBF, to fund research across 10 academic research groups with various specialties in cell biology, said MelTec chief financial officer J rgen Sachwe. Under the terms of the grant, MelTec must pony up matching funds for the research project.
Specifically, MelTec and its group of academic collaborators will use the company’s technology for visualizing and localizing protein networks in cells, Sachwe said. The technology, known as MELK, studies the three-dimensional distribution of proteins in cells — what the company refers to as the toponome — by sequention recording the position of specific ligand-protein complexes with a microscope. MelTec says it can visualize up to 60 proteins simultaneously after using either fluorescently-tagged or label-free capture agents.
The academic members of the research group, which MelTec has dubbed CELLECT, for cellular eukaryotic proteome code-deciphering technology, will travel to Magdeburg, Germany-based MelTec to use the company’s technology, and then contribute to deciphering the results, Sachwe said. Members of the academic team include Andreas Dress, a mathematician at the University of Bielefeld, and Tobias Hartmann, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the Center for Molecular Biology at the University of Heidelberg.
Dutch University Launches Protein Chip Program
University of Twente in the Netherlands has put together a new biochip research group, headed by professor Richard Schasfoort, to develop large-scale proteomics chips.
Schasfoort and his group of six scientists and technicians are developing the chips using a combination of microfluidics and surface plasmon resonance technology. The substrate consists of a grid of gold rectangular “landing pads” for the proteins, and the proteins captured on this surface are scanned by a laser. An image captures the deposition pattern.
Schasfoort, a chemical engineer and professor in the applied physics department, is aiming to develop a complete integrated protein chip system. The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research has awarded Schasfoort an award of over Euro 700,000 for a five year period. Previously he developed the basic components for a prostate cancer monitoring system using SPR.
Genomic Solutions Gets Asian Distributors
Genomic Solutions of Ann Arbor, Mich., has signed agreements with two companies to distribute its 2D gel analysis instruments and other products in China, Australia, and New Zealand.
The distributors include Gene Company, of Hong Kong, which will distribute to China, and BioLab Group, with offices in Australia and New Zealand, which will distribute to those countries.
The products to be distributed include Genomic Solutions’ GeneTAC, Investigator, GeneMAP, and Cartesian tools.
These new agreements come after Genomic Solutions’ distribution agreement with PerkinElmer ran into trouble. PerkinElmer earlier had an exclusive agreement to distribute Genomic Solutions’ products outside the US and Japan, but when PerkinElmer bought Genomic Solutions competitor Packard Biosciences, its sales of Genomic Solutions products flagged. Genomic Solutions and PerkinElmer then agreed that their non-US distribution agreements would be non-exclusive, enabling Genomic Solutions to find other non-US distributors for its instruments.
REPRORI Resorts to Biacore S51
Biacore said last week that the Reverse Proteomics Research Institute (REPRORI), a consortium of 11 Japanese companies involved in drug development, has purchased Biacore’s S51 protein binding analysis system for studying how proteins bind with small molecule drug compounds.
REPRORI, founded in May 2001, will use the S51 system as part of a project to study the interactions between 800 small molecules and 6,000 cDNA-derived human proteins. Support for the five year project comes from the 11 members of the consortium, with additional funding from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
The Biacore S51 uses surface plasmon resonance technology to provide data on binding kinetics, ligand/protein affinity, and reaction specificity, the company said. The new S51 will add to REPRORI’s stable of protein analysis instruments, which already includes the Biacore 3000, an earlier version of the Uppsala, Sweden-based company’s surface plasmon resonance technology.
“We have chosen Biacore technology to support this important research program as we believe that it is one of the most advanced technologies available today for understanding molecular interactions at the detailed level we require,” Renpei Nagashima, president of REPRORI and advisor at Chugai Pharmaceutical, said in a statement.
Shimadzu Biotech Invests $1.56M in Singapore Startup
In its first external investment in a biotech venture, Shimadzu Biotech has invested S$2.74 million ($1.56 million) in Agenica Research, a Singapore-based startup aiming to develop a database of unique genes related to cancer.
In addition to making an equity investment, Shimadzu also plans to help Agenica build the database by contributing new proteomics technologies for isolating proteins associated with cancer from disease samples, as well as designing new reagents and analysis equipment. Shimadzu hopes to eventually market the technology more broadly.
Established in March, 2001, with money from the National Cancer Center of Singapore and Mitsui, Agenica employs 17 people and is located on the grounds of the National Cancer Center. Shimadzu now owns a 5.6 percent stake in Agenica.
LSBC to Manufacture Proteins for Univ. of Cape Town
Large Scale Biology said last week that it will use its Geneware technology to develop and manufacture potential vaccines for HIV and human papillomavirus, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. LSBC will express the proteins in the leaves of plants at its biomanufacturing facility in Owensboro, Ky., for use in future clinical trials.
Under the agreement, the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at the University of Cape Town will have a license to use LSBC’s Geneware technology to produce the protein vaccines, as well as the rights to revenues from the sale of any products in Africa. LSBC reserves rights to the sale of any products in North America and Europe.