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Thermo Opens Customer Demonstration Lab in Mumbai, India

Thermo Electron opened a customer demonstration laboratory in Mumbai, India, the company said this week.

The Mumbai demonstration center will house Thermo's laboratory and life sciences products, including ion trap and triple quadrupole mass spectrometers, centrifuges, incubators, microplate instruments, and process instruments. The site will be equipped with customer demonstration and training facilities, Thermo said.

Thermo started direct operations in India eight years ago and currently operates out of Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Chennai.

Including this Mumbai site, the company has opened three centers in two years. Earlier this month, the company opened a customer service and demonstration laboratory center in Shanghai, China and a manufacturing operations facility in Shanghai in December 2004.


As Funding Runs out, Blueprint Halts Curation
Activities for BIND Interaction Database

The Blueprint Initiative, a non-profit research program based at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Toronto's Mt. Sinai Hospital, has "fully expended available core funding in both Canada and Singapore," according to a notice on its website, and will stop curating the Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND).

"No further funding is available at this time," the notice reads, adding that curation activities for the database have been "terminated."

Chris Hogue, principal investigator for the Blueprint Initiative, told GenomeWeb News that the project, which once employed as many as 70 curators in Canada and another 15 in Singapore, is down to a handful of staff. Hogue has two full-time members of his lab working on BIND now, but it looks like funding for their salaries will run out "early next year," he said.

In May, the Blueprint Initiative learned that its funding from Genome Canada would not be renewed because the project failed to meet a requirement to secure matching funds. At the time, the organization planned to move all of its curation capabilities to Blueprint Asia, the initiative's Singapore facility.

But Hogue said today that the initiative's Singapore funding -- which came from Singapore's economic development board, the Genomics Institute of Singapore, and the National University of Singapore -- also required matching funds, which Blueprint was unable to secure.

In the meantime, Mount Sinai has pledged to host Blueprint Initiative resources, including BIND and the SeqHound data warehouse, while Hogue explores alternative means to support the effort.

In the notice on the BIND website, Hogue notes that "public databases are essential requirements for the future of life sciences research. The question arises will these be free or will they require a subscription. Should BIND/Blueprint be sustained as a public-funded open-access database and service provider?"

Hogue told GenomeWeb News that he would consider commercializing the database, but only as a "last resort" because he'd prefer to see BIND remain in the public domain.

"We're trying to do everything we can so we don't have to close those doors," he said.


IBM, Scripps to Use World Community
Grid for AIDS Drug Docking Study

IBM said last week that it is partnering with the Scripps Research Institute to find new AIDS therapies with the World Community Grid -- an international community of 100,000 computer users who have donated cycle time on more then 170,000 PCs by registering at www.worldcommunitygrid.org.

The project, called [email protected], will be the second large-scale computational biology project to run on the so-called "virtual supercomputer." In the first, announced a year ago, IBM partnered with the Institute for Systems Biology, United Devices, and the University of Washington to predict the three-dimensional structure of 120,000 protein domains that could not be characterized using traditional approaches.

The goal of [email protected] is to design new therapeutic approaches to treat AIDS, which poses a considerable challenge because the HIV virus evolves rapidly to acquire new mutations that confer drug resistance.

"The computational challenges in approaching this problem are the vast number of possible mutations that may occur, and the huge number of possible chemical compounds that might be tested against them," said Arthur Olson of the Department of Molecular Biology at Scripps, in a statement.

Olson said that the World Community Grid project will run "millions upon millions" of docking computations to evaluate potential interactions between compounds and mutant viral proteins.


NCI Awards $10M to Six US Labs Researching Cancer Biomarkers

The National Cancer Institute awarded a total of $10 million to six research groups developing molecular markers for cancer, the agency said this week.

The projects will confirm, refine, and evaluate molecular signatures; develop reproducible assays for molecular signatures; and identify molecular markers to be used in clinical decisions.

The grants are part of NCI's Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures program.

Six institutions received the grant: the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, Calif., University of California in Irvine; the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha; the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque; Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn.; and Washington University's Department of Medicine in St. Louis.


Enzon, Micromet End Antibody Drug R&D Partnership

Enzon Pharmaceuticals and Micromet will end their collaboration to identify and develop antibody-based therapeutics for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, the companies said this week.

The decision was made after Enzon decided to redirect its efforts onto new business objectives, including a greater focus on cancer, the companies said. Enzon and Micromet had been collaborating since April 2002.

The companies said that the termination of their collaboration does not affect their other agreements, including a cross-license agreement between the parties and a marketing agreement under which Micromet is the exclusive marketer of the companies' combined intellectual property estate in the field of single-chain antibody technology.


Waters Receives $250M Loan; Will Buy
Back Stock, Pay for 'General' Expenses

Waters this week borrowed $250 million on Nov. 28 as part of a new term loan facility administered by JPMorgan Chase Bank and other financial institutions, the company disclosed today in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Waters expects to use the cash to buy back common stock under its stock-repurchase program and for "general corporate purposes," the filing said.

The term matures on Nov. 28, 2010, and requires no scheduled repayments beforehand, but prepayments can be made.


NIH Sets Aside as Much as $25M for 2006 Pioneer Awards

The National Institutes of Health has set aside as much as $25 million for the 2006 Pioneer Awards, the agency said this week.

Unlike other NIH grants, which support specific research projects, the Director's Pioneer Award supports individual scientists and is a key component of NIH's Roadmap for Medical Research, according to the agency.

Scientists at all career levels and in any field of research can apply, but the awards cover only biomedically relevant research topics, the NIH said. NIH expects to offer between five and 10 awards of up to $2.5 million apiece over a five-year period beginning in Sept. 2006, the organization said. Thirteen scientists received these awards last September and nine in 2004.

Applicants submit a three- to five-page essay, a biographical sketch, identification of the applicant's most significant publication or achievement, and three letters of reference. Applications may be submitted between Jan. 5 and Feb. 27, 2006.

The Pioneer Award Web site is here.


Metabolon Becomes Member of NCI's
Early Detection Research Network

The National Cancer Institute's Early Detection Research Network has selected Metabolon as a member, the company said this week.

As a member, Metabolon will share its technology and metabolomics expertise with Arul Chinnaiyan of the University of Michigan to discover disease biomarkers for prostate cancer, the company said. The collaboration is funded by an NCI grant as part of the Chair's Challenge program.

The network was established by NCI in early 2000 and aims to identify and validate cancer biomarkers for early cancer detection.


Broad Founders Give Institute Second $100M Gift;
Lander Calls Cash 'Vote of Confidence'

The Broad Institute has received a second $100 million gift from institute founders Eli and Edythe Broad, the center said this week.

The Broad founders helped found the institute 18 months ago with an original $100 million gift.

According to The Broad, the combined gift will be doled out in $20-million blocks over the next 10 years. Eli Broad said that the couple decided to double the institutes funding because they were impressed by the "tremendous progress already made by the scientists and by the success of the new model for collaborative science involving Harvard and MIT."

Eric Lander, founding director of the institute, called the gift a "vote of confidence."

The Broad also said that a new Broad Institute building, located at 7 Cambridge Center in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass. is scheduled for completion in Spring 2006. In July, the institute said the center would be completed in January 2006.


Correction: In an article on sleep deprivation published in ProteoMonitor on Nov. 18, there was an error about the molecule adenosine. According to Radhika Basheer, an assistant professor at Harvard and the first author of the sleep deprivation study, when an organism expends energy, adenosine triphosphate is used up and broken down to adenosine. The resulting increased level of extracellular adenosine in the basal forebrain induces sleepiness.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.