On the cutting edge

A roundup of instrumentation, software and other tools and technology news

Jeffrey Bouley
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GOLETA, Calif.—Imaging is the word as we begin this month’s roundup of technology breakthroughs and recent releases, with news that BIOPAC Systems Inc., a global distributor of functional near infrared optical imaging (fNIR) devices, has announced the availability of its newest generation of fNIR systems. The new high-density imaging systems provide in-lab or real-world cognitive function assessments for physiology researchers looking to understand brain activity, without all the expense of functional magnetic resonance imaging.
All systems include fNIRSoft and COBI software for data collection and analysis. Data can be synchronized with and imported into AcqKnowledge Software for a complete understanding of physiological response, including EEG, EDA, ECG, BP and other important physiology signals.
“Experimental design can be more sophisticated with this mobile technology. It gives researchers the opportunity to collect data from subjects as they live their lives,” said Frazer Findlay, BIOPAC’s CEO. “Mobile imaging can add value to any study but is especially important when subjects are children or families, as they can be in a familiar or comfortable environment, yielding better results.”
 “When designing and manufacturing fNIR Devices, we decided not to weigh down the subject’s head with a battery and extra electronics. As a result, our imagers, including our wireless imager, measure the brain’s hemodynamic response with minimal weight and maximum comfort,” added Davood Tashayyod, fNIR Devices CEO. “fNIR Devices systems are very easy to set up and very comfortable for the subject. A comfortable subject produces better-quality data and can participate in short- and long-term studies.”
A gene expression kit using upcyte hepatocytes
STATE COLLEGE, Pa.—INDIGO Biosciences Inc., an industry leader in nuclear receptor research, has announced the addition of a gene expression assay kit featuring upcyte hepatocytes to its portfolio. This addition both complements INDIGO’s industry-leading nuclear receptor assays and meets the demand for an expansion of the portfolio to include methods for researchers to perform the next steps of discovery research in their own laboratories.
While primary hepatocytes have historically been the preferred in-vitro model for assessing drug-induced expression of drug metabolizing enzymes, their limited supply from any one donor and their finite lifespan pose a challenge for their routine use. INDIGO’s assay kit utilizes optimized upcyte hepatocytes, which are human donor-derived hepatocytes established by upcyte technologies GmbH. The upcyte hepatocytes combine the characteristics and advantages of primary hepatocytes with the added practical advantage of having access to the same donor cells for use in iterative, large-scale testing over extended periods.
“The addition of the assay kit ... to our portfolio represents a significant expansion in drug discovery capabilities. INDIGO is excited to meet the increasing industry need for extended assay platforms for pre-clinical research,” said Dr. Jack Vanden Heuvel, chief scientific officer of INDIGO.
Ablexis announces licensing deal with Allogene
SAN DIEGO—In December, Ablexis LLC, a biopharmaceutical company focused on licensing its AlivaMab Mouse technology for antibody drug discovery, announced a license agreement with Allogene Therapeutics Inc. The license grants Allogene rights to research, develop and commercialize certain AlivaMab antibodies against several targets. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“Ablexis is excited to add Allogene Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering the development of allogeneic CAR T (AlloCAR T) therapies for cancer, as a licensee,” noted Dr. Larry Green, CEO of Ablexis. “This agreement with Allogene highlights the potential applications of AlivaMab antibodies in novel drug modalities such as CAR Ts. We believe our transgenic mouse platform will play an integral role in the continued advancement of the field of immunotherapy.”
The AlivaMab Mouse is designed to enable and optimize the efficient discovery and development of the next generation of human therapeutic antibodies. The platform has been validated for antibody drug discovery by Ablexis and partners in various formats including regular antibodies, bispecifics and CAR Ts, and for a range of applications.
Collaboration to offer large-scale genomic analysis tools
PARIS—IntegraGen, a company specializing in the decoding of the human genome with a focus on producing interpretable genomic analysis for academic and private laboratories, announced in late 2018 it will be collaborating with Google Cloud for the implementation of IntegraGen’s advanced genomic analysis tools, SIRIUS and MERCURY, into the Google Cloud Platform. This partnership will enable widespread online availability, rapid data transfer and enhanced data security to clinicians and researchers utilizing these analytical tools.
“Working with Google Cloud will enable us to provide our customers with integrated and powerful options for rapidly analyzing large-scale genomic data online through our SIRIUS and MERCURY analysis tools,” said Bérengère Génin, IntegraGen’s director of bioinformatics. “As was presented during the Paris Google Cloud Summit this past June, the availability of our genomic data analysis tools via the cloud now makes personalized medicine a reality.”

Jeffrey Bouley

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