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Syrrx, GlaxoSmithKline, Syn X Pharma, FDA, Actelion, Astex Technology, AstraZeneca, Genetix Group


Syrrx Enforces Crystallization Patent Against Oculus

Syrrx said last week that it had successfully enforced a patent against Oculus Pharmaceuticals in court. The patent, US Patent 6,296,673 entitled “Methods And Apparatus For Performing Array Microcrystallizations,” covers the crystallization of proteins in submicroliter volumes, which reduces the amount of protein required. Syrrx, which licenses the patent exclusively from The Regents of the University of California through the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, uses the technology in its proprietary nanovolume crystallization technology. Last April, the San Diego-based company brought a federal action against Oculus Pharmaceuticals of Birmingham, Ala., for infringing the patent. In the consent judgment, Oculus acknowledged the validity and enforceability of the patent, agreed that it had infringed it, and accepted the court’s order to stop any actions leading to infringement, according to Syrrx.


GlaxoSmithKline Takes Look at Ambit’s Profiling Technology

Ambit Biosciences said last week that GlaxoSmithKline has been evaluating its technology to characterize small molecule kinase inhibitors. Under the agreement, which started in January, San Diego-based Ambit assesses the specificity of Glaxo’s kinase inhibitors by identifying protein interactions and binding affinitities using its phage display-based screening approach.


Syn X Pharma Receives Milestone Payment from Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics

Syn X Pharma of Toronto said last week that it has received its first milestone payment from Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics for its Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics technology. The payment results from an exclusive worldwide licensing and development agreement the two companies reached last October. Syn X’s technology measures in whole blood a marker enzyme called glutamine synthetase that is released by brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease.


FDA Finds Matritech’s Bladder Cancer Test Approvable

Matritech of Newton, Mass., said last week that the Food and Drug Administration has found its NMP22 urine test approvable as an aid in diagnosing bladder cancer. As a result, the point-of-care test will be permitted for this expanded use upon successful completion of a routine manufacturing facility inspection, according to the company. The test detects the presence of NMP22, a nuclear matrix protein correlated with bladder cancer. Last summer, Matritech received FDA clearance to market the test for monitoring patients previously diagnosed with bladder cancer. Matritech develops proteomics-based diagnostic tests for the early detection of cancer using a patented technology for the isolation of nuclear matrix proteins it licenses from MIT.


Actelion to Offer OGS’ Gaucher Disease Drug in the EU

Actelion of Allschwil, Switzerland, said last week that it expects to make Oxford GlycoSciences’ inherited storage disorder drug Zavesca available in the EU within the coming months. Zavesca, which was developed by OGS, is currently available to patients with type 1 Gaucher disease in the UK. Last November, OGS granted Actelion worldwide marketing rights for Zavesca, with the exception of Israel.


Astra and Astex Collaborate

Astex Technology of Cambridge, UK, said last week that it would collaborate with AstraZeneca to develop drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will fund Astex’s research program and make milestone payments of approximately $40 million, in addition to royalties based on sales of an approved product. Astex will provide an initial series of small molecules inhibitors and apply its x-ray crystallography-based approach, called fragment-based drug discovery, to identify additional drug candidates. AstraZeneca will be responsible for the clinical development of potent lead compounds. Astex already has a research agreement with AstraZeneca that focuses on solving novel cytochrome P450 crystal structures.


Genetix Reports Rising Revenues, Decreased Profit for 2002

Genetix Group of New Milton, UK, reported slightly increased revenues and decreased profits for 2002 last week.The company’s revenues climbed to £12.6 million ($20.2 million) from £12.4 million ($19.9 million) the year before. Its pre-tax profits, excluding goodwill, decreased by £0.2 million ($0.3 million) to £2.0 million ($3 million). The company invested £1.5 million ($2.4 million) in R&D last year, compared to £1.2 million ($1.9 million) the previous year. Genetix’s cash balance at the end of the year was £20.9 million ($33.5 million).The company, which has 103 employees in total, said that it will launch several new proteomics products this year.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.