September 13th, 2005
Agilent Technologies Introduces ChIP-on-chip Microarrays
for Gene Regulation Analysis
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A)has introduced its ChIP-on-chip
microarray (chromatin immunoprecipitation on glass slide microarrays) used for the analysis of the regulatory regions of genomes.
The technology is to assist researchers in the determination of active parts of the genome that are used in the regulation
of human health and disease mechanisms. The company indicates that the technology will further knowledge in the operating
activity of embryonic stem cells and a number of life-threatening diseases. According to Richard Young, Ph.D., of MIT and
its Whitehead Institute affiliate, "ChIP-on-chip goes beyond gene expression to explore gene regulation activity. Regulatory
proteins bind to genomic DNA to control DNA replication and gene expression, thereby functioning as switches in the regulatory
circuitry of cells. Combine this information with gene expression data and you get biomarkers."
Agilent in the announcement referenced the journal Cell. According
to Agilent, The Whitehead Institute in the September 8 issue refers to a mechanism discovered that relates to the human embryonic
stem cells ability to become any type of cell.
The ChIP-on-chip technology was originally developed at Computational
Biology Corp, which was acquired by Agilent in January 2005. Dr. Young, who now is consultant for Agilent, founded computational
Athletes Genes to Be Correlated with Sports Performance
– SportsGene Test Launched in Japan
Genetic Technologies Limited(NASDAQ:GENE)(ASX:GTG) has launched
ACTN3 SportsGene Test in Japan through its Japanese distribution partner, Sportsstyle. SportsGene will be sold throughout
Genetic Technologies director, Professor Deon Venter, a former British
Ironman Triathlon champion, indicated that the product would be used in Japan to explore the relationship between genetics
and sports, "Japan represents a significant market for the ACTN3 SportsGene Test, with highly influential sporting and government
bodies keen to explore the relationship between genetics and sporting performance. Japan is an extremely technologically-sophisticated
country and is now taking a leadership position in the science of optimizing a person's sports potential according to their
inherited genetic capabilities."
The product was launched at a ceremony in Tokyo, which included
the Japanese press, over 100 sports specialists and the President of the Japan Federation of Health and Sports.
Genetic Technologies reported that it would analyze the results
from SportsGene Test in Japan. Results are expected relatively soon.
September 12th, 2005
Amicus Therapeutics, which has been developing new technology
for the treatment of human genetic diseases, has closed a $55 million Series C financing round. The company’s technology
is based on small-molecule, orally-active pharmacological chaperones. These diseases, according to the company, are often
“the result of missense and other genetic errors that cause the misfolding and degradation or accumulation of a particular
Amicus' products, which it calls pharmacological chaperones,
are used to bind the misfolded target protein, which gives the protein its correct conformation permitting it to function
properly again. Once the protein is restored, the affected cells are then enabled to perform their normal operating function.
Amicus' lead compound is called Amigal, which is being
studied in clinical program for Fabry disease. Amigal so far has been shown to increase target enzyme activity levels Those
that participated in the funding included Quaker BioVentures and all of the company’s existing investors.
September 7th, 2005
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has chosen InforSense’s
technology for high-throughput genetic data analysis for use in cancer research. Grid Computing Platform application development
research based on InforSense KDE platform will be performed at the Core Genotyping Facility of the NCI at Gaithersburg, Maryland.
The KDE based research is expected to result in the publication of leading analysis methods through a web portal for other
According to Dr. Meredith Yeager, Scientific Director,
Core Genotyping Facility, NCI "Investigators require access to the latest analysis techniques to advance their research. Therefore,
creating the informatics infrastructure to compose and deliver these methods is a high priority at the CGF. After an extensive
review of the available commercial and open source options, we recognized that InforSense KDE is able to provide the functionality,
flexibility, and scalability we need to support our research, and to develop caBIG (Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid) compatible
August 31st, 2005
Biological Operating System Company Names VP
NanoString Technologies, Inc., an early stage development company
working on a nanotechnology platform for high-speed single molecule identification and digital quantification, referred to
as a biological operating system, has appointed an experienced DNA microarray professional, John Sowatsky as the company’s
Vice President of Product Development. According to H. Perry Fell, Ph.D., CEO at NanoString, "His proven track record at Affymetrix
has led to the successful development and launch of many integrated biomolecular analysis systems and NanoString will see
tremendous benefit from his experience as we move toward commercialization of our technology."
Mr. Sowatsky implied the new technology at NanoString
had the potential to change the world of genome technology, "The development of DNA microarray technology over a decade ago
fundamentally changed the way that researchers examine the genome and has led to increased understanding of the relationship
between genes and human health. I believe that NanoString Technologies is the next wave of disruptive technology poised to
take research to a higher level of understanding not possible today."
The terminology of the biological operating system comes
from the standard adopted by the computer industry for the control of and reading and writing information from a computer’s
disk drive. That operating system is known as the disk operating system (DOS). On boot-up of a computer, a standard set of
instructions and data is called from disk memory at a specific track location on computer’s disk. One of the tasks of
DOS is to keep track of the locations of files and programs on the disk drive media, which is often divided into sectors and
tracks. When a file is called for retrieval, DOS will look up where the file is located on the disk through the use of stored
sector and track information.
If a direct analogy is made with a biological operating
system (BOS), it could be inferred that the BOS’ function would be to retrieve molecules, or molecular reaction sequences
that are stored or used to perform a specific biologic function.
August 30th, 2005
As part of an overall goal to deliver personalized medicine
to the doctors office – permitting doctors to perform complete genetic analysis of patients, bacteria in the office,
a group through the government of Canada has put together a $346 million funding package for the funding of 33 new genomics
and proteomics research projects. Genome Canada provided $167.2 million and a group of Canadian and international partners
provided the other $179.3 million. The Honorable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for Genome
Canada, and Dr. Cal Stiller, Chairman of the Board of Genome Canada made the announcement.
Commenting on the funding was Minister Emerson, "These
large-scale projects have tremendous potential to improve the health of Canadians and build the competitiveness and prosperity
of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors of our economy. Today's funding announcement reinforces the important
scientific advances that can be achieved for all Canadians and indeed the world through Genome Canada's funding model. Stretching
government dollars through collaborations with other governments and partners maximizes our research capacity."
It was indicated the funding would ensure Canada’s
lead in aquaculture and forestry as well as help Canada find new ways to quickly diagnose infectious diseases through nanotechnology
based systems. One of the project goals alluded to was the reduction in time to diagnose an infection to minutes and at the
doctor’s office. Presently, infection diagnosis often has to be sent out to laboratories for culturing. The process
can sometimes requires weeks to determine the exact nature of the organism causing the infection.
Genome Canada has been responsible for $560 million in
funding commitments in the field of genomics and proteomics research throughout Canada since 2000. The organization in collaboration
with its partners has secured access to over $1.2 billion in funding commitments that involve 112 research projects.
August 23rd, 2005
Isis Enters into Agreement
for Placement of $51 Million
Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISIS), a company
involved in RNA technology through antisense drugs and the identification of infectious organisms with biosensor technology,
has entered into an agreement for the placement of 12 million shares of its common stock at $4.25 per share. The company expects
to receive net proceeds of $48 million from the placement.
Isis’s antisense drugs are for applications in
the treatment of metabolic, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases as well as cancer. The company through its Ibis division
is commercializing and developing its TIGER biosensor system, which is used to identify infectious organisms. The company
also has an extensive portfolio of over 1,500 patents that it either owns directly or has exclusive licensees for.
Stanley T. Crooke, Isis' CEO with the announcement indicated
that the drugs the company has been developing are working in humans, "Our recent achievements in the clinic demonstrate that
our antisense drugs are working in man, and we are committed to the continued development of these drugs and the antisense
technology platform. We believe antisense represents a new sector of the pharmaceutical industry that will provide benefit
to patients in need of novel therapeutic alternatives."
B. Lynne Parshall, CFO at the company, on the other
hand, directed comments towards Isis’ new cash position, "This financing strengthens our balance sheet, providing sufficient
cash to fund our operations, with reasonable assumptions for new sources of revenue and cash, at least through 2007. In addition,
it gives us the capital to negotiate potential drug discovery and development collaborations and other licensing arrangements
from a position of financial strength. We are pleased with the support shown by our long term investors whose participation
was an important element of this financing, and with the addition of several sophisticated biotech investors to our investor
August 19th, 2005
CytoGenix Readies DNA
Production Plant - Non-Bacteria Based
CytoGenix Inc. (OTCBB:CYGX) , a company that has developed
a new process for the production of DNA, has signed a contract with Alfa Laval Biokinetics for the design and construction
of a prototype production module for the manufacture of DNA, The second phase for the construction of the plant is estimated
to cost $2.2 million.
CytoGenix’s high-purity DNA production technology
is reported, unlike other manufacturing techniques, not to require bacteria for the manufacture of DNA and does not produce
bacteria related toxins. The company indicates that traditional DNA manufacturing processes require cloned E Coli bacteria,
which results in the need for expensive purification technology, resulting in DNA production costs as high as $300,000 a gram.
On the other hand, the company indicates that its technology
results in much lower DNA costs and reduced production time and hence has the potential to be the basis for DNA production
in the future. According to Dr. Malcolm Skolnick, CytoGenix’s CEO, "This is the next step in our march to make pharmaceutical
grade DNA affordable. This is truly a breakthrough technology that changes the economics of cost-sensitive products such as
DNA vaccines, antimicrobials and cancer immunotherapy. In the next few years, this technology will drive the development of
DNA therapeutics for human and animal application by significantly reducing the costs of finished products."
August 15th, 2005
Xenogen Enters into $15 Million
Xenogen Corporation (NASDAQ:XGEN), a company that
develops in vivo biophotonic technology, has entered into definitive agreements to sell $15 million of its common stock and
warrants. The company indicated that the securities are being sold to institutional and venture investors.
August 11th, 2005
Corning Enters into Patent License Agreement
to Improve Drug Discovery Methods
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) has entered into a patent
license agreement with the Whitehead Institute. The agreement was through Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the
Whitehead Institute’s licensing agent. The specific agreement involves the patent rights to Reverse Transfection Method
technology from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
Corning indicates that it plans to combine The Reverse
Transfection Method technology with technology licensed from Aastrom Biosciences, Inc. to develop improved drug discovery
methods. Aastrom’s technology, a surface mediated cell transfection technology, permits the insertion of “foreign
genes” into cells.
Jeff Mooney, commercial technology director, Corning
Life Sciences, expressed confidence that the technology the company has obtained will lead to improved drug discovery methods,
"We are very pleased to have licensed this important piece of intellectual property from the Whitehead Institute. This move
further underscores Corning's commitment to investing in research and development of new products and technologies. Our expertise
in both surfaces and assays, combined with the intellectual property we have acquired from industry leaders such as Whitehead
and Aastrom Biosciences, makes us confident we hold the necessary keys to deliver to market a first-of-its-kind technology
that will greatly improve our customers' drug discovery research techniques."
August 10th, 2005
LI-COR Biosciences has put $1.75 million into Genomics
Education Matching Funds (GEMF) for high schools, colleges and universities. The GEMF Program will allow students to use LI-COR
DAN sequencing systems and software in their studies of molecular biology. Jackie Potts, LI-COR GEMF Program Coordinator,
noted one of the requirements to obtain the awards, "This particular grant program will help colleges and universities compete
for awards. Colleges will be evaluated for how they will incorporate the LI-COR DNA analysis system into their curriculum
as the main criteria for the award process."
LI-COR noted that its genomic analysis systems are used
in academic laboratories around the word for a number of different research projects. These include reverse genetics research,
SNP discovery, sequencing and a number of others.
August 5th, 2005
454 Life Sciences, a subsidiary of CuraGen Corporation (NASDAQ:CRGN),
has reported that it has achieved all the initial milestones under an exclusive world-wide agreement with Roche. It also reported
that it has received $11.5 million in payments from Roche for the initial milestones. The agreement involves 454’s Genome
Sequencing Systems. According to Christopher K. McLeod, CEO at 454 Life Sciences "We are very pleased to have accomplished
these initial milestones as these activities have laid the foundation for the commercial launch of 454 Life Sciences' Genome
Sequencing Systems and reagents by Roche. In addition to enabling the commercial launch with Roche, these milestones triggered
payments which we believe will advance us toward our goal of financial self-sufficiency."
454 and Roche entered into a 5 year agreement in May of 2005 related
to the marketing and sales of 454’s Genome Sequencing System, kits and reagents. Under that agreement 454 hopes to eventually
see up to $62 million in license fees, royalties, research funding and milestone payments. That agreement gives Roche the
rights to sell 454’s products.
454 products differentiate themselves in that they permit one person
to prepare and sequence an entire genome. The nanotechnology based instrument technology is said to also produce over 20 million
nucleotide bases in a four hour run, a capacity the company indicates is 100 times more than other instruments on the market.
On August 1st, 454 announced a new genome sequencing technology
that permits sequencing 100 times faster than previous technologies. The company indicated that this new sequencing technology
is the first new commercialized genome sequencing technique since Sanger-based DNA sequencing. The July 31, 2005 online issue
of Nature describes the technology.
Faster sequencing technology is needed in order to cost-effectively
profile the genetics of individuals so as to provide personalized prescriptions as well as to definitively quantify the genetic
makeup of viruses - as they evolve in form as they are transmitted from different species and individuals.
JULY 19th, 2005
MitoCheck, a multinational research consortium funded by the European
Union, has entered into an agreement with Ambion and Ambion (Europe) Ltd. The agreement will give MitoCheck access to Ambion’s
genome-wide human siRNA (short interfering RNA) library.
MitoCheck plans to use the library to determine how the process
of cell division is regulated. The library is expected to be used to find which genes are used in the cell division process,
known as mitosis. siRNA is expected to be central to the project. One of the reasons is that siRNA can be used to turn off
or reduce the gene expressions. Ambion’s genome-wide library offers further control. With the library each gene in the
entire human genome can be selectively turned off – permitting the researchers a systematic way to determine if a specific
gene plays a role in mitosis.
The MitoCheck project is the largest Integrated Project on cell
cycle control within the 6th Framework Programme (FP6) of the European Union.
Members of the MitoCheck consortium, which is focused on cell cycle
control, includes a broad spectrum of research organizations and companies. The companies involved in the research include
Leica Microsystems CMS GmbH and Gene Bridges GmbH.
From academia, notable organizations that are involved are from
the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France and Italy. In the United Kingdom members include ; the Wellcome Trust Sanger
Institute, Clare Hall Laboratories, Cancer Research UK (CHL-CRUK), Department of Pathology, University College London (UCL).
In Germany the members are the European Molecular Biology Laboratories (EMBL),Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ, Max
Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (CBG.
From Austria is the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP).
South of Austria, from Italy, is the European Institute of Oncology (EIO), Italy and in France Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique(CNRS) is an academic member.