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Waters, PerkinElmer, Agilix, Proteome, Egenix, Liotta, Petricoin, Protein Discovery, Compugen, NIH, University of Vermont, Chem Genomics Center, Invitrogen, CombiMatrix, US Air Force


Waters to Shed Around 70 Jobs in Bid to Cut Costs in US, Europe

Waters will lay off about 70 employees in a bid to cut costs in the US and Europe, the company said in its annual report this week.

The company said it will take a one-time restructuring charge this year of $5 million to $7 million.

Waters said cost-cutting measures will conclude in the third quarter. In addition to the lay offs, Waters will close an office in the Netherlands.

PerkinElmer Acquires Agilix's i-PROT Isobaric Protein Labeling Technology

PerkinElmer has acquired Agilix's proprietary i-PROT protein labeling technology that uses isobaric mass tags to simultaneously quantify proteins from multiple samples (see ProteoMonitor 12/17/2004), the company announced this week.

PerkinElmer will use the intellectual property acquired from Agilix to develop a number of new technologies that will bring quantitative proteomics to a wider range of customers in drug discovery said Robert Friel, president of PerkinElmer's life and analytical sciences division.

The acquisition of Agilix's i-PROT technology complements PerkinElmer's recent licensing agreement for the multiplexing bead-based technology from Luminex.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Proteome and Egenix to Develop Semen-Screening Diagnostic for Prostate Cancer

Proteome Systems and Egenix will co-develop a semen-based diagnostic kit for prostate cancer, Proteome Systems said this week.

The non-invasive test will be based on the human carcinoma antigen.

Under the agreement, Egenix will fund research to optimize the detection of HCA in semen of prostate cancer patients. The companies will then share the rights for further development and commercialization of the test.

Egenix estimated a potential US market size for the HCA test of up to $1.5 billion, according to a statement.

"We initially wondered if there would be social or cultural objections to a test that requires the patient to provide an ejaculate specimen," said Egenix president Jedd Levine. "But it's common to look in organ secretions for signs of cancer in that organ and ... most men would willingly provide a semen specimen to potentially avoid a painful needle biopsy."

Liotta and Petricoin, Italian Health Agency to Identify Proteomic Biomarkers, Drug Targets for Cancer

George Mason University and the Instituto Superiore di Sanitá in Rome plan to develop a proteomics research program to discover new drug targets and biomarkers for early cancer detection, the organizations said last week.

The research will be led by center co-directors Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin through George Mason University's Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, the statement said.

The ISS, which is the main scientific arm of the Italian National Health Service, will provide George Mason with human tissue and blood samples, funding for Italian and George Mason scientists to work at the CAPMM laboratories, and access to research from a consortium of Italian cancer centers, the statement added.

Specific collaborative initiatives include nanotechnology development; identification of new blood-borne biomarkers for early detection of ovarian, colorectal, lung, and breast cancers; discovery of new drug targets for advanced stages of colorectal, lung, and breast cancers; and discovery of new drug targets for childhood leukemia, childhood cancers, and brain cancers, the partners said.

The agreement represents a continuation of a US National Cancer Institute project Liotta, Petricoin, and the ISS worked on to develop proteomics technologies for analysis of cancer and other diseases.

Protein Discovery Awarded Phase I SBIR Grant for Serum Fractionation

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Protein Discovery a Phase I SBIR Grant to help the company develop a fractionation system that prepares human serum for high-throughput mass-spectrometry analysis.

Protein Discovery's system "is compatible with all major MALDI mass spectrometers and can be automated, so we are excited about the tremendous value this system will provide to organizations involved in proteomics research and biomarker discovery," said president and CEO Chuck Witkowski in a statement.

The amount of the grant was not disclosed, though Phase I SBIR grants are typically $100,000.

Compugen to Lead $3.7M EC-Funded MAP-Kinase Pathway Consortium

Compugen announced this week it is leading an international consortium to develop a platform to simulate the MAP-kinase pathway.

The European Commission is funding the consortium with €3.1 million ($3.7 million) over three years.

Other consortium members include Aureus Pharma, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Institut De Recerca Hospital Universitari Vall De Hebron, Instituto Nazionale Tumori, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, University of Glasgow, Weizmann Institute of Science, and Arttic Israel.

NIH Awards $16.5M to Vermont Genetics Network to Support Array, Proteomics Facilities

The National Institutes of Health's National Center for Research Resources has awarded a $16.5 million grant to the University of Vermont to fund the Vermont Genetics Network, UVM said this week.

The grant will help support microarray and proteomics facilities, as well as a bioinformatics core, UVM said. In addition, the grant will help build biomedical research funding competitiveness at UVM by providing research support to early-career faculty and graduate students, the university said.

Established in 2001 through a $6 million NCRR grant, the VGN is a multi-disciplinary scientific research network designed to build and strengthen biomedical research and expertise throughout the state. Led by UVM, the network also includes Castleton State College, Johnson State College, Middlebury College, Norwich University, and St. Michael's College.

At the state level, 60 percent of the total VGN grant funds are distributed from UVM to the partner institutions. At the national level, VGN joins a system of university and college networks funded by NCRR called the IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence.

NIH's Chem Genomics Center to Use Invitrogen Tools in Screening Program

The National Institutes of Health's Chemical Genomics Center will use Invitrogen's CellSensor cell lines and GeneBLAzer beta-lactamase reporter gene technology to identify compounds that modulate disease-relevant signaling pathways, the company said this week.

The NCGC will use the assay technology with quantitative high-throughput screening program, Invitrogen said, and all of the screening data from the collaboration will be deposited in PubChem.

As these new assays generate compounds of interest, Invitrogen and the NCGC may agree to work together to identify the protein targets they affect through the use of additional Invitrogen technologies such as Stealth RNAi and Protoarray Human Protein Microarrays, Invitrogen said.

CombiMatrix Inks New Air Force Deal for Biomarkers

CombiMatrix and the US Air Force have agreed to cooperate to develop a "personal health monitoring system," CombiMatrix said last week.

Under the agreement, the applied biotechnology branch of the US Air Force research laboratory's human effectiveness directorate, biosciences and protection division, will use CombiMatrix's CustomArray technology to develop a biomonitor device capable of analyzing multiple DNA or protein biomarkers to "aid the US Department of Defense in its mission to effectively monitor the health status of military service personnel before, during and after deployment, where untoward exposures may impact on their performance or health," according to a statement.

The program is in addition to a previous agreement with the Air Force to develop pathogen-detecting microarrays and is the product of a "Presidential directive," said CombiMatrix.

Financial details were not provided.

The Scan

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

TB Resistance Insights Gleaned From Genome Sequence, Antimicrobial Response Assays

Researchers in PLOS Biology explore M. tuberculosis resistance with a combination of sequencing and assays looking at the minimum inhibitory concentrations of 13 drugs.

Mendelian Disease Genes Prioritized Using Tissue-Specific Expression Clues

Mendelian gene candidates could be flagged for further functional analyses based on tissue-specific transcriptome and proteome profiles, a new Journal of Human Genetics paper says.

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.