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Ubiquigent Formed to Commercialize Products for Ubiquitylation Research

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This story originally ran on March 4.

A new company, Ubiquigent, has been formed to develop reagents and kits to help "advance understanding of the biology of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway."

Based in Dundee, Scotland, Ubiquigent is operating as a subsidiary of stem cell firm Stemgent, which plans to invest $4.5 million into Ubiquigent over the next three years.

Stemgent is based in Boston and San Diego. Ubiquigent is Stemgent's first overseas company.

Ubiquigent will produce biological products and services generated by the Scottish Institute for Cell Signaling, or SCILLS, at the University of Dundee, Stemgent said in a statement. Initially, Stemgent will market Ubiquigent's products in the US. Plans for the rest of the world are forthcoming, Stemgent said.

Founded in October 2008, SCILLS is dedicated to "understanding how biological processes are controlled and how they become deregulated in disease, with the long-term goal of facilitating the development of improved drugs to treat disease," according to its website.

The Protein Ubiquitylation Unit is the first division of SCILLS and studies the role of reversible protein ubiquitylation and related modifications in cell regulation and human disease.

Ubiquitylation regulates virtually all aspects of cell life, and abnormalities in the process have been implicated as a cause of cancer, chronic inflammatory diseases, and autoimmune diseases.

Ubiquigent's initial team of three employees, who have been based in SCILLS for the past four months, are working with the Protein Production and Assay Development team of SCILLS as they prepare for an initial product launch. On Ubiquigent's website, the company says to "look out for our products launching in late March."

Working with the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit at the University of Dundee, Ubiquigent will also support research into how the ubiquitin system is involved in cellular processes modulated by kinases. Ubiquigent is "dedicated" to developing assays, kits, and services related to such research, it said.

Ian Ratcliffe, CEO of Stemgent, will also serve as Ubiquigent's CEO. In a statement, he said that ubiquitylation is a complex biological process and most of the proteins involved in the ubiquitin proteasome pathway "are still to be fully understood, and only some of the tools necessary to do this exist today."

"Working with the Protein Ubiquitylation Unit of SCILLS, Ubiquigent will develop high performance, application-tested reagents, kits and services that will help the scientific community make discoveries in the field leading to the development of valuable new drugs," he said.

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