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Proteomics International IDs Venom for Drugs


Spiders, snakes, and centipedes may be the stuff nightmares are made of, but for one Australian firm they may form the foundation for its future.

In April, Proteomics International announced the development of Bioven, a process that links mass spectrometry with proprietary algorithms to determine peptide identity and predict their functions. Using this process, the company said that up to five times as many potential drug candidates can be recovered from venom than had been previously achieved.
In the first few months of operation, the company says, it was able to detect "several thousand" molecules and predict their potential bioactivity.

"We're extremely pleased with the number of molecules that we're identifying and the sheer number within each venom and in total," Proteomics International's managing director and co-founder Richard Lipscombe says. "And in terms of the analysis, we are in the process of evaluating leads that we've got from the process. We've been synthesizing a number of the peptides and they're currently undergoing validation."

While he declines to describe in detail the Bioven process, he says the company has been developing "methods at the front end" in order to look at proteomes more efficiently. The Bioven process is based on mapping the proteome of venoms using Proteomics International's proprietary algorithms to interpret the mass spectra and determine the protein sequence. New peptides and protein signatures are then analyzed against the company's in-house database of bioactive molecules to determine their applicability as potential therapeutic agents.

The method, Lipscombe says, has resulted in greater coverage of the venom proteomes that the company has been studying: While the scientific literature suggests about 50 to 100 peptides in any given venom, Proteomics International is seeing as many as 300 peptides, he says.

For now, the firm is targeting peptides that may have therapeutic use as antimicrobials and analgesics as proof of concept for its technology.

— Tony Fong


The number of well-characterized monoclonal antibodies against 26 cancer targets in the Developmental Studies Hybridoma Bank at the University of Iowa

Proteomics notes

The Irish UCD Conway Institute's Proteome Research Centre is going to be a reference center for the Swedish firm Denator's Stabilizor T1 system for stabilizing tissue samples.

Overbrook Scientific will distribute Phytronix's laser diode thermal desorption ionization technology in the US. According to Overbrook, the LDTD technology can increase the speed of analyzing compounds 20 to 100 times as compared to LC/MS-based techniques.

The Human Proteome Organization is now accepting nominations for its board of directors. Nominees must be in good standing with HUPO, and the nominations must be made and seconded by a HUPO member. Elections will be held during the annual conference in September.

Funded grants

$186,969/FY 2009
Proteomic Studies of Dendrimer-based Nanomedicines
Grantee: Weiguo Andy Tao, Purdue University
Began: Mar. 1, 2009; Ends: Feb. 29, 2012

Tao plans to develop a proteomic approach to study nanomedicine based on dendrimer-protein tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor conjugates. According to the grant abstract, he will synthesize dendrimers that contain immobilized PTP inhibitors. Then Tao will identify PTP targets in cancer cell homogenates and protein targets in intact cancer cells in culture.

$299,796/FY 2009

Providing Peptide Atlas Based Services through the caGRID infrastructure
Grantee: John Boyle, Institute for Systems Biology
Began: Jan. 1, 2009; Ends: Jun. 30, 2011

With this grant, Boyle will be able to make Peptide-Atlas available to researchers and clinicians. To do that, PeptideAtlas needs to be supported by a framework that supports and can portray rich semantics, has a high level of interoperability, and is a distributed system so that information is readily available at all times. To accomplish that, Boyle plans to implement caGRID.

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