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Rigaku, Proteome Sciences, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Inpharmatica, Aventis, Charles River, Genway Biotech, Purely Proteins

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Rigaku Spins Out X-Ray Business to Form Independent Subsidiary

Rigaku of Tokyo said this week that it has converted its X-ray crystallography contract services and consulting division into an independent, wholly owned subsidiary called PharmAxess.

PharmAxess is capitalized at 30 million yen ($274,000) and located in Harima Science Garden City, home to Japan’s SPring-8 (SP-8) synchrotron. The company will offer contract protein crystallography services by leasing time at SP-8 or using Rigaku’s in-house HomeLab LightSource X-ray diffraction systems.

Contract services will be based upon milestone payments. Rigaku said the subsidiary should see sales of 200 million yen in 2004.

Yukiteru Katsube, former head of the Institute for Protein Research at Osaka University, will become president and CEO of PharmAxess, which will initially employ 10 staffers.

Rigaku holds the largest piece of the world X-ray crystallography market. Bruker AXS, now part of Bruker Biosciences, is the company’s next nearest competitor.


Proteome Sciences Pens Prion Collaboration

Proteome Sciences announced this week that it has signed a deal to work with the Medical Research Council to profile differential protein expression in patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The company will use its ProteoShop tool kit to separate, identify, and characterize proteins from a variety of different body fluids in an attempt to find biomarkers for the disease, better known as mad cow disease. Age- and sex-matched samples will be used for the work.

Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


Italy Aims to ‘Steal the Best Brains’ from US for Proteomics Research Center

Italian officials announced last week that San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan will open a new department for proteomics research that will create 500 positions in 2004 and will aim to “steal the best brains from the US,” according to San Raffaele Hospital president Luigi Verze.

The department, called Dibit 2, has so far secured €150 million in investments, and holds an agreement with IBM to acquire a supercomputer, called Blue Gene, that models protein folding.

“ Dibit 2 aims to become one of the largest research centers for molecular medicine,” Verze told reporters.


Inpharmatica Sells Biopendium Subscription to Aventis

London-based Inpharmatica announced this week that Aventis has purchased non-exclusive, multi-user rights to use Inpharmatica’s proteome annotation resource, Biopendium. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


Charles River and Genway Biotech Collaborate on Bird Antibodies

Charles River Proteomic Services of Worcester, Mass. and GenWay Biotech of San Diego announced late last week that they have been collaborating to produce avian IgY polyclonal antibodies for use in the pre-fractionation of high abundance proteins.

The antibodies are covalently conjugated to microbead carriers and applied to serum samples to pull down certain proteins. The companies have so far produced anti-albumin, anti-IgG, anti-transferrin, anti-fibrinogen, anti-IgA, and anti-IgM beads for separation.

“ GenWay’s avian antibody and conjugation chemistry expertise has enabled us to improve our science by selectively depleting abundant plasma and serum proteins from samples,” John Pirro, general manager of Charles River Proteomic Services, said in a statement.


Purely Proteins Start-up Takes in First Round of Funding

Cambridge, UK-based start-up Purely Proteins announced this week that it had completed its first round of venture funding with two investors: Avlar BioVentures and Yorkshire Fund Managers. The amount of total funds raised was not disclosed.

Purely Proteins uses affinity purification technologies and informatics software to purify and analyze proteins and for drug target discovery and therapeutic applications, according to the company.