March 2006- Volume 2, Issue 3

March 2006

In this Issue

Research & Development

Fending off the plague: ASU generates plant-made vaccine to fight bioterrorism

Fending off the plague: ASU generates plant-made vaccine to fight bioterrorism

TEMPE, Ariz.—Combining lessons in plant biology and vaccine generation, scientists at Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) Biodesign Institute have engineered tobacco plants to produce vaccine antigens against the microbe that causes the legendary Black Death, Yersinia pestis. In doing so, they have taken another step toward helping the world protect itself from bioterrorist attack.

CombinatoRx, Fovea collaborate on new ophthalmic therapeutics

CombinatoRx, Fovea collaborate on new ophthalmic therapeutics

BOSTON–A new collaboration between CombinatoRx Inc. and Fovea Pharmaceuticals SA will provide Fovea with combination drug candidates for ophthalmic disorders from CombinatoRx’s portfolio. The program will explore using approved drugs in tandem to generate novel mechanisms of action that create new treatments for ophthalmic diseases.

HIV’s new enemy? Small molecule with broad antibacterial value shows mettle against HIV

HIV’s new enemy? Small molecule with broad antibacterial value shows mettle against HIV

DENVER—Ceragenix has reported that a synthetic small molecule in a class of compounds called ceragenins (CSAs)—a class it licensed exclusively from Brigham Young University (BYU) in large part for its antibacterial properties—is showing evidence that it could be useful in fighting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In fact, in vitro laboratory tests conducted at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., indicate that this particular CSA may have potent virucidal activity against multiple strains of HIV.

Immusol confident in herpes-based viral therapy for cancer

Immusol confident in herpes-based viral therapy for cancer

SAN DIEGO—Immusol has entered into a license agreement with Baylor College of Medicine for the exclusive, worldwide rights to a novel oncolytic viral therapy using herpes simplex viruses (HSVs), which the company believes will be superior to adenovirus-based oncolytic viral therapies being worked on by other companies. The financial terms of the license agreement were not disclosed.

Callisto goes after tumors

Callisto goes after tumors

NEW YORK—Callisto Pharmaceuticals, a developer of new drug treatments for cancer, biodefence and other health threats, is licensing a new class of compounds called degrasyns from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center for development as cancer drugs. The novel anticancer activity of these analogs is connected to their ability to selectively degrade key proteins involved in tumor cell proliferation and survival, including C-MYC, BCR-ABL and JAK2, which are all important targets for a wide range of tumors.

Genomics & Proteomics

Seal of approval: Vical licenses DNA delivery technology to academics

Seal of approval: Vical licenses DNA delivery technology to academics

SAN DIEGO—Vical Inc. announced that it entered into nonexclusive academic licensing agreements that codify use of its DNA delivery technology at four research institutions: Stanford University, Harvard University, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The license covers unsponsored academic research and enables scientists to use Vical’s techniques free-of-charge for internal educational and noncommercial research purposes.

Amgen and Genentech IP deal signals growing interest in therapeutic antibody market

Amgen and Genentech IP deal signals growing interest in therapeutic antibody market

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.—Biotech giants Amgen and Genentech announced the signing of licensing agreements that granted each company access to multiple patents related to the manufacture and use of antibodies and related technologies. This includes a license for multiple products under Genentech’s Cabilly patent family (including U.S. Patent No. 6,331,415) relating to the methods and vectors required to produce antibodies.

Giving DNA’s second code first priority

Giving DNA’s second code first priority

ST. LOUIS—Orion Genomics is aggressively working to decipher the “second code” of DNA to advance the state of cancer diagnostics and treatment, and has enlisted the help of researchers at the University of Glasgow to that end. The work currently focuses on discovering novel epigenetic biomarkers for the development of tests that screen for cancer at an early stage and that could provide personalized information about how tumors are most effectively treated.

Stemming the tide of diabetes

Stemming the tide of diabetes

AURORA, Colo.—Vitro Diagnostics and PhosphoSolutions, both based here, have announced a research collaboration to characterize intracellular signaling mechanisms involved with regulation of stem cell growth and differentiation.

Cardinal flies into new territory

Cardinal flies into new territory

SOMERSET, N.J.-Cardinal Health announced in early January a collaboration with Centocor Inc., under which Cardinal will develop for Centocor cell lines that express undisclosed monoclonal antibodies. The agreement helps to cement Cardinal’s efforts to offer a broad menu of services for biopharmaceuticals, from drug discovery and manufacture through packaging and distribution.

Global News

Synthetech acquires I.P. and hooks into resins

Synthetech acquires I.P. and hooks into resins

ALBANY, Ore. – In mid-January, Synthetech Inc. acquired intellectual property assets for resin processes from Colorado Biotechnology Associates Inc. (CBA). Resin production, which has already begun at Synthetec’s facility, will diversify the company’s product lines beyond amino acid, peptide, and chiral intermediate products.

Bayer buys Icon, enters plant-made pharma market

Bayer buys Icon, enters plant-made pharma market

LEVERKUSEN, Germany—With an eye to strengthening its efforts to produce next-generation drugs in plants, Bayer Innovation recently acquired Icon Genetics, a Munich-based biotechnology company. Financial details were not released.

Informatics

Chipping in: Affymetrix, Iconix team up to provide low-cost toxicity screening service

Chipping in: Affymetrix, Iconix team up to provide low-cost toxicity screening service

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Seeking to deliver a cost-efficient, broad-brush toxicity screening service to large and small companies alike, Iconix Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Affymetrix Inc in early February announced a collaboration to do just that by combining the capabilities of Affymetrix’ GeneChip and Iconix’ DrugMatrix 640 compound reference database and analysis software system.

Finding fault before failure: Lilly licenses Xencor immunogenicity platform

Finding fault before failure: Lilly licenses Xencor immunogenicity platform

MONROVIA, Calif.—With an eye to reducing adverse events, biotherapeutics company Xencor announced it signed a non-exclusive licensing deal with Eli Lilly & Co. for Xencor’s ImmunoFilter technology. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the multi-year deal will see the pharma giant gain access to immunogenicity data and software in exchange for annual fees.

Clincal Data, IO Informatics nab ATP informatics grant

Clincal Data, IO Informatics nab ATP informatics grant

NEWTON, Mass.—Securing what it termed the largest Advanced Technology Program (ATP) grant for the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), Clinical Data and IO Informatics recently announced an agreement to partner on the final two years of a project that is designed to develop software and technology to interpret disparate data for researchers taking a systems biology approach to drug discovery.

Predicting toxicity: Chemicon, Cellumen combine talents to push cytotoxicity profiling to the next level

Predicting toxicity: Chemicon, Cellumen combine talents to push cytotoxicity profiling to the next level

ATLANTA—Serologicals Corp. recently announced that Chemicon International, its wholly-owned Temecula, Calif.-based subsidiary, had entered into a research and development agreement with Pittsburgh-based Cellumen to commercialize a cytotoxicity profiling panel and services designed with Chemicon’s cellular assay reagents and Cellumen’s system cell biology approach

Automation & Instrumentation

Medis Technologies spins off new company called Cell Kinetics Ltd.

Medis Technologies spins off new company called Cell Kinetics Ltd.

NEW YORK– In a move to separate disparate business activities, Medis Technologies is spinning off its CellScan work into a new entity called Cell Kinetics Ltd. Cell Kinetics will commercialize equipment for monitoring living cells in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs, and Medis will continue developing fuel cells.

A little liquid deal

A little liquid deal

DUBLIN, California—In early January, Eksigent Technologies announced it had signed a distribution agreement with Applied Biosystems under which Applied Biosystems would offer a line of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems based on Eksigent’s liquid handling technology integrated with Applied Biosystems/ MDS Sciex mass spectrometers.

BioMachines gets new partner

BioMachines gets new partner

CARRBORO, N.C.—BioMachines Inc. a biotech automation company announced last month that Clearview Limited acquired a majority stake in the company and with it the hiring two new executive leaders for the company.

Agilent aims to conquer LC/MS

Agilent aims to conquer LC/MS

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Agilent isn’t content to simply coast on its gas-chromatography/mass spectrometry accomplishments. Now it is out to conquer the liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) market, and is starting off on that path with the release of an entire new portfolio of LC/MS systems.

Setting the standard: Lumera joins with medical university to co-develop new protein chip

Setting the standard: Lumera joins with medical university to co-develop new protein chip

BOTHELL, Wash.—Lumera Corp., a nanotechnology company that designs proprietary molecular structures and polymer compounds for bioscience and technological applications, has executed a letter of intent with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), under which the university will purchase Lumera’s recently released ProteomicProcessor Biosensor instrument.
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