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Stanford, Aclara Biosciences, Diversa, Large Scale Biology, Astex Technology, Altana Pharma, GPC Biotech, Celltech, Oxford Glycosciences


Stanford Licenses Aclara’s eTag System

Aclara Biosciences of Mountain View, Calif., said this week that Stanford University had licensed its eTag assay system for proteomics studies in the area of autoimmune diseases.

Stanford has been using the technology since 2002 in a collaboration with Aclara.

According to Aclara, as part of a 7-year, $14.6 million contract from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the Center for Clinical Immunology at Stanford will establish a proteomics center to study autoimmune diseases. Paul Utz, who will help coordinate the center, will be using the eTag technology.

Diversa Receives $1.38M in DoD Funding

Diversa of San Diego said this week that it will receive $1.38 million in funding from the Department of Defense’s Chemical and Biological Defense Initiatives Fund to develop diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies against anthrax and to identify new targets to combat anthrax and the plague.

As part of the research, Diversa will analyze serum from survivors of the fall 2001 anthrax attacks to identify novel protein targets for therapeutics. This will expand the company’s proteomic analysis of Bacillus anthracis it currently conducts under a CRADA with the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Furthermore, Diversa will use 3D LC-MS/MS to study novel protein targets associated with the plague.

Large Scale Biology Cuts Costs; Proteomics Unaffected

Large Scale Biology of Vacaville, Calif., said last week that it cut $5 million in costs in order to focus on commercial product development programs. Reductions included an undisclosed number of the company’s 114 employees, consulting contracts, and general administrative expenses.

A spokesperson for LSBC told ProteoMonitor that no employees at the company’s proteomics unit in Germantown, Md., were affected.

Astex Publishes Novel Form of Disease-Relevant Phosphatase

Astex Technology of Cambridge, UK, said last week that it has determined the three-dimensional structure of a new form of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, an enzyme that is implicated in diabetes and obesity.

The results were published in last week’s issue of the journal Nature.

PTP1B controls the activity of the insulin receptor. The new form includes a sulphenyl-amide group in the active site of the protein, a feature not previously observed in any other proteins, according to Astex.

This group alters the architecture of the active site and could be exploited for drug design.

Altana Opens Research Institute in US, Expands Collaboration with GPC Biotech

Altana Pharma of Constance, Germany, the pharmaceutical division of Altana, opened the Altana Research Institute in Waltham, Mass., last week. The institute, which houses 50 scientists, will focus on genomics and proteomics research but will also include a bioinformatics component. It will be operated in collaboration with strategic partner GPC Biotech of Munich.

Work on the ARI started at the end of 2001 as part of a five-and-a-half-year collaboration between Altana Pharma and GPC Biotech. Altana will invest a total of about $120 million in the institute. Of that, GPC receives $60 million in committed revenues.

Separately, GPC Biotech and Altana said last week that they had expanded their collaboration to include GPC’s yeast three-hybrid drug-protein interaction technology LeadCode. They will use the technology to evaluate both proprietary compounds of Altana Pharma and compounds in the public domain. Under the terms of the expanded alliance, GPC will receive additional funding. Furthermore, it can receive over $15 million in milestone payments, in addition to royalties, for products that result from the collaboration.

Celltech Integrates OGS’ Oncology Programs

Celltech of Slough, UK, said this week that it has integrated Oxford Glycosciences’ oncology research into its own programs.

Celltech said it identified a “highly skilled research team” as well as a number of oncology programs in both the antibody and small molecule areas that it decided to keep. The most advanced of these programs are expected to yield antibody development candidates within two years.

So far, all OGS researchers that were offered positions at Celltech have accepted, according to the company. The new activities will be incorporated within Celltech’s existing R&D budget, in accordance with Celltech’s goal of an earnings- and cash-neutral acquisition of OGS.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.