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PSI to Determine Shapes of 3,000-4,000
Proteins in $300M Second Phase of Project

The Protein Structure Initiative has launched the second phase of its national effort to find the three-dimensional shapes of a wide range of proteins. During this phase, 10 new research centers will receive about $300 million over five years to determine the shape of 3,000 to 4,000 proteins.

During the first phase of the funded PSI project, which began in 2000, PSI centers determined the structures of more than 1,100 proteins (See ProteoMonitor 2/18/2005). With the second phase, the focus of the project is shifting from developing tools to streamline steps for generating protein structures to using those tools to rapidly determine thousands of protein structures in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans.

"The PSI has transformed protein structure determination into a highly automated process, making it possible to go from a selected target to a completed structure much more rapidly than before," said Jeremy Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which funds the PSI. "Building on these achievements, the new centers will take PSI to the next level, yielding large numbers of structures and tackling significant new challenges."

The 10 new PSI research centers include four large-scale centers:

  • the Joint Center for Structural Genomics, led by Ian Wilson of the Scripps Research Institute;
  • the Midwest Center for Structural Genomics, led by Adrzej Joachimiak of Argonne National Laboratory;
  • the New York Structural GenomiX Research Consortium, led by Stephen Burley of Structural GenomiX; and
  • the Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium, led by Gaetano Montelione of Rutgers University,

and six specialized centers:

  • the Accelerated Technologies Center for Gene to 3D Structure, led by Lance Stewart of deCODE biostructures;
  • the Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics, led by John Markley of the University of Wisconsin-Madison;
  • the Center for High-Throughput Structural Biology, led by George De Titta of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute;
  • the Center for Structures of Membrane Proteins, led by Robert Stroud of the University of California San Francisco;
  • the Integrated Center for Structure and Function Innovation, led by Thomas Terwilliger of Los Alamos National Laboratory; and
  • the New York Consortium on Membrane Protein Structure, led by Wayne Hendrickson of the New York Structural Biology Center.

Sienabiotech Licenses GeneGo's MetaCore

GeneGo said this week that Sienabiotech has licensed its MetaCore informatics platform for analyzing biological networks, pathways, and diseases.

Financial terms of the agreement were not provided.


Qiagen to Fatten Protein Sample-Prep
Business with $10M Nextal Acquisition

Qiagen plans to spend $9.7 million to acquire privately held Nextal Biotechnology, a provider of sample-prep consumables for protein crystallization, Qiagen said last week.

Terms of the deal, which will enable Qiagen to sell standardized protein products that encompass standardized cloning, expression, purification, and crystallization, call for Qiagen to spend the $9.7 million buy all of the outstanding capital stock of Nextal. An additional consideration of approximately $4.5 million is subject to certain undisclosed milestones.

Nextal, based in Montreal, markets a suite of consumables designed to "simplify the process of sample preparation of proteins for subsequent crystallographic analysis," Perlegen said. The technology is believed to be a good business fit with Qiagen's protein sample-prep offerings, including its Qproteome line.

"Through this acquisition we can extend our sample preparation leadership into the rapidly growing area of sample preparation for biological macromolecule crystallography," Peer Schatz, Qiagen's chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Qiagen, based in Venlo, the Netherlands, said it expects to incur "less than" $1 million in charges during its fiscal second quarter 2005, but said Nextal will add approximately $3 million in net annual sales, and will be neutral to net income to Qiagen's 2006 earnings.


Japanese Biotech Takara Buys BD's Clontech Unit for $60M

Becton Dickinson has signed an agreement to sell its Clontech unit to Japanese firm Takara Bio for $60 million, BD said late last week.

The Clontech business had been on the block since October, but BD was having difficulty finding a buyer. BD finally announced on Friday that Takara would acquire the unit.

BD purchased the Clontech business in 1999 for $201 million. Several years of diminishing revenue returns and a realization that Clontech did not fit BD's business model made the sale a necessity for the medical device and diagnostics firm.

Takara sells restriction enzymes and PCR enzymes as part of its offering of molecular biology tools, though the firm also is developing cell- and gene-based therapies and biotech products for agricultural applications.

In a statement released late last week, Takara said that Clontech's products "in gene function and protein interaction analysis with its newly engineered fluorescent proteins, as well as protein expression vectors" would complement Takara's existing tools. Among Clontech's products are the BD Atlas fluorescent labeling kits for expression profiling, NucleoSpin Extract kits for PCR purification, RNAi systems for regulating protein knowckdown, and TransFactor Universal kits for studying transcription factor-DNA interaction.


Kreatech Signs on Bioke as Benelux Supplier for Labeling Tech

Bioke, based in Leiden, The Netherlands, will be the exclusive supplier of Kreatech's ULS nucleic acid and protein labeling technology in Benelux, Kreatech said this week.

Earlier, Kreatech announced that Open Biosystems has become the exclusive supplier of the ULS technology in the United States.


Open Biosystems to Distribute Kreatech Labeling Systems in the US

Open Biosystems will exclusively distribute Kreatech Biotechnology's ULS nucleic acid and protein labeling technology in the United States, the companies said this week.

Kreatech's ULS (Universal Linkage System) enables the attachment of a variety of labels directly to DNA, RNA, and proteins, the company said.

Alex Altink, Kreatech's CEO, said in a statement that the Amsterdam-based company intends to further expand its distribution network in Europe and Asia in the next few months.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.