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Ortho-McNeil, J&J and Cellzome, BSI Proteomics, Boehringer Ingelheim and MorphoSys, Proteome Systems, Biacore International, Teranode and St. Jude, Luminex, NIEHS, and Bruker BioSciences


Ortho-McNeil, J&J to Use Cellzome Proteomics Tech in Alzheimer’s Research Program

Cellzome last week said that it will collaborate with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, an affiliate of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, in a drug-discovery research program for Alzheimer’s disease.

Cellzome will apply its chemical proteomics technology to the program, and will receive a technology-access fee and research funding for two years. The company said it is also eligible for development milestone payments.

Ortho-McNeil will have exclusive worldwide rights to products developed during the collaboration and will pay Cellzome royalties on sales. J&JPRD will support the discovery research conducted at Cellzome, while Ortho-McNeil will be responsible for development, manufacturing, and commercialization of any drugs that result from the collaboration.

Cellzome said it will provide access to its existing Alzheimer’s program technology, which includes an amyloid precursor protein processing pathway map and new drug targets. Ortho-McNeil will also have an option to license Cellzome’s Gamma Secretase Modulator program, which Cellzome said includes novel small molecules for development as orally active treatments.

BSI Proteomics to Determine Structure of CF Membrane Protein

BSI Proteomics said last week that it will perform protein crystallization and structure determination services for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The foundation selected BSI to express, purify, crystallize, and determine the structure of the cystic fibrosis trans-conductance protein, a membrane protein that has proved difficult to purify, according to the Gaithersburg, Md.-based firm.

BSI will use its Membrane Protein Stabilization System, which has particular capabilities for stabilizing membrane, ion-channel, and other “difficult” soluble proteins, the company said. BSI claims that its technology can produce diffractable crystals in months, compared to years required for other methods.

The company did not disclose any financial terms for its agreement with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Boehringer Ingelheim, MorphoSys Expand Antibody-development Collaboration

Boehringer Ingelheim has obtained from MorphoSys the option to exclusively license several therapeutic antibodies being co-developed by the firms under a previous agreement with the two companies, the company said last week.

Under the agreement, which expands a previous therapeutic antibody collaboration between the two companies, Behringer will also obtain access to MorphoSys’s HuCal Gold library, taking installation first at its site in Vienna.

Boehringer will pay MorphoSys an undisclosed technology access fee, annual licenses fees, and optional R&D funding over the 5-year term of the collaboration. It will also pay milestone fees and royalties for any therapeutic antibodies emerging from the collaboration.

Australian Government Awards Proteome Systems $2M to Develop New TB Test

Proteome Systems has won a $2 million START grant from the Australian government to continue developing a new diagnostic for tuberculosis.

The new antibody-based TB test is expected to be in prototype form within 18 months, Proteome Systems said.

Existing tests for TB can take between 24 hours and several weeks to deliver results. The new test being developed by Proteome Systems will deliver an accurate result in a time frame of between several minutes and a few hours, according to the company.

Biacore Completes $4M Acquisition of HTS’ FlexChip Technology

Biacore International announced last week that it has completed the $4 million all-cash acquisition of the FlexChip system and related assets from HTS Biosystems of Eagan, Minn.

The FlexChip system is a surface-plasmon-resonance based technology applied to kinetic screening.

St. Jude Proteomics Facility to Use Teranode Design Suite

Teranode said this week that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s proteomics facility will use the Teranode Design Suite informatics platform as its laboratory information management system.

The proteomics lab will use the system to automate tasks associated with sample tracking, array formatting, data tracking, and protocol design that are currently managed manually.

Financial terms of the agreement were not provided.

Luminex Finalizes Compensation for Board of Directors

In an 8-K form filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Luminex disclosed the terms of compensation to be paid to its non-employee directors.

The chairman of the company’s board of directors, Walter Loewenbaum, will receive a monthly retainer of $10,000. Loewenbaum has served as a member of the board since 1995.

Board members other than the chairman will receive an annual retainer of $18,000.

Chairs of the audit committee and executive committee of the board of directors will be paid an additional annual retainer of $20,000, while the chair of the compensation and nominating and corporate governance committees will be paid an additional annual retainer of $10,000.

Each board member will also receive $2,000 for each board meeting attended, $500 for each committee meeting, and $1,000 for each audit committee meeting.

NIEHS to Issue RFP for Protein Biomarker Discovery

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences later this month will solicit requests for proposals from labs that pursue protein biomarker discovery “in subcellular tissue fractions of target tissues or accessible biological fluids such as serum or plasma as a result of toxic insult or disease,” according to the Institute.

The Institute also seeks “to achieve mechanistic insights as implicated or demonstrated by changes in proteins as a result of experimental treatments or in studying environmental models of disease.”

The Institute has not disclosed the amount of money it has set aside for this RFP.

According to a brief on the FedBizOpps web site, the labs “shall perform proteomic analysis which includes 1) preparation of tissues(s) and serum or plasma; 2) protein analysis; and 3) protein identification.

“Offerors are encouraged to propose a primary proteomic technology and be capable of using or acquiring additional proteomic platforms (possibly via subcontracts) and to demonstrate the offerors experience with and which substantiate utility of the approach for biological studies for protein expression, identification and characterization of various tissues and of one or more subproteomes,” the NIEHS said.

One award is “anticipated” to be made on Jan. 31, 2006, which will cover a research period of two years with three one-year optional years,” the NIEHS said.

The Institute expects to release the RFP on March 22, and proposals will be due May 5.

Bruker Says 'Material Weakness' at Subsidiary Will Force Firm to Raise 2004 Losses

A “material weakness” in “internal controls” at an undisclosed Bruker BioSciences subsidiary will cause Bruker to increase its 2004 net losses, the company said last week.

According to a statement released recently, Bruker “has been made aware” of “several” 2004 audit adjustments that it said will have a “negative impact” on its 2004 financial results.

In addition, Bruker said German tax authorities have revised their assessment after the company released its 2004 earnings on March 2. As a result, Bruker said it will ask the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a 15-day extension to its 2004 Form 10-K filing deadline.

The company plans to schedule a conference call with investors to discuss the revised financial statements at the time of the 10K filing, Bruker said.


The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.