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Proteome Systems Hooks Up with Eukarion, Buck Institute to Study Proteomics of Aging

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In support of its claim to have a hand in both proteomics technology development and discovery, Proteome Systems has signed a research partnership with Eukarion, a privately-held drug company, that will give Proteome Systems a stake in the profits from any drugs developed through the collaboration.

Along with a third partner, the Buck Institute for Age Research, based in Novato, Calif., Proteome Systems will study how Eukarion’s drugs affect protein expression levels in mice, particularly in the mitochondria of certain mouse tissues. In results previously published in Science and the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at the Buck Institute and Eukarion, based in Belford, Mass., had shown that Eukarion’s drugs increased the lifespan of both C. elegans and certain genetically engineered mice.

The three parties will share the intellectual property that results from the collaboration, said Mary Lopez, Proteome Systems’ executive vice president for US R&D at the company’s facility in Woburn, Mass. “We own everything jointly,” she said. “There’s pretty much an even split.”

Proteome Systems’ role is to study cell samples provided by the Buck Institute using its 2D gel electrophoresis-based protein analysis platform, and to look for differentially expressed mitochondrial proteins related to oxidative stress, and other proteins that may represent targets related to aging and neurological disease, Lopez said.

Eukarion’s drugs are thought to mimic enzymes in the mitochondria that help destroy oxygen free radicals and hydrogen peroxide, two sources of oxidative stress related to aging and disease. While Proteome Systems performs proteomics studies on the drug-mediated samples, the Buck Institute contributes gene expression data, said Simon Melov, who directs the research at the Buck Institute.

In addition to normal mice, the researchers are studying samples taken from knockout mice without the ability to express mitochondrial superoxide dismutase, a protein involved in protecting the cell from oxidative damage. “We’re looking to see how those drugs rescue the effects of that mutation, because they do” as shown in previous publications, Lopez said.

The partnership between Proteome Systems and Eukarion originated with Melov, who initially contacted Lopez a year ago about adding a proteomics angle to his research. At the time, Melov had already begun working with Eukarion, so Proteome Systems and Eukarion have indirectly been working together for about a year, said Lopez.

But Eukarion CEO Bernard Malfroy said the companies announced the partnership now because Proteome Systems and Eukarion had only recently signed a definitive agreement to share intellectual property. “The action starts now,” he said.

Because his company is privately held, Malfroy would not disclose information on Eukarion’s finances. The 11 year-old company has a partnership with Modex Therapeutics to develop one of its compounds as a topical agent for preventing radiation-induced skin damage in cancer patients.

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, Proteome Systems also has a research collaboration with the University of Missouri-Columbia to study the proteins involved in resistance to cancer drugs.

— JSM

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