Saturday, June 30, 2007



CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 29, 2007 – Gene Network Sciences (GNS) today announced that it has entered into a comprehensive cancer research collaboration with M2Gen, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute's (Moffitt) for-profit subsidiary. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The agreement includes using Moffitt's clinical expertise with GNS's proprietary REFSTM (reverse engineering and forward simulation) software platform to develop next-generation cancer diagnostics and therapeutics. GNS will reverse engineer computer models directly from Moffitt's patient de-identified tumor molecular profiling data. By quantitatively simulating the models, the parties hope to develop a more detailed "systems level" understanding of the molecular biology of cancer. The models will be simulated to identify key genes causally driving cancer progression and the relationships between those genes and endpoints such as recurrence and survival.

"Our ultimate goal of advancing patient care demands the use of the most advanced technologies available to gain actionable insights from data," said Dr. Timothy Yeatman, associate center director for translational research and president of M2Gen. "GNS REFSTM provides a platform that has already been applied in commercial drug development to rapidly develop new and better treatments and assessment options for patients."

Moffitt will bring to bear its expertise in assessing the clinical viability of the potential diagnostics identified from the model simulations. The parties will then work together to validate the discoveries and will work with strategic partners to rapidly bring the diagnostics to market.

"GNS is excited to be working with one of the most forward-thinking cancer centers in utilizing cutting-edge data collection and computational methods together to greatly improve patient outcomes," said Colin Hill, CEO of GNS. "We have put into place a mutually beneficial economic structure in which both sides will share in the revenues from diagnostics generated during the collaboration."

About Gene Network Sciences

Founded in 2000, Gene Network Sciences ( is a leader in biosimulation with its ability to derive molecular mechanisms of drugs and diseases directly from molecular profiling and clinical data without any a priori knowledge. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Ithaca, New York, GNS uses its REFSTM (reverse engineering and forward simulation) technology in pharmaceutical and clinical settings to rapidly turn complex and heterogeneous data sets into cell and organ-level computer models of drug efficacy and drug safety. These models simulate the mechanisms of disease and clinical performance of drug candidates. By discovering how and why specific drug candidates impact human biology, GNS technology enables the rapid development of breakthrough drug and diagnostic products.

About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center

Located in Tampa, Florida on the University of South Florida campus, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute ( is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 15 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country's leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America's Best Hospitals for cancer. Moffitt's sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Biotech News

Biotech News

GPC Biotech/Pharmion: satraplatin edges closer to approval Pharmaceutical Business Review - USA By Tom Gray GPC Biotech's partner, Pharmion, has submitted a European marketing application for satraplatin in combination with prednisone for the ...

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Bee researcher at Arizona State University is one of 20 new Pew Scholars in the biomedical sciences

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Bee researcher at Arizona State University is one of 20 new Pew Scholars in the biomedical sciences

TEMPE, Ariz.– It’s hard to imagine, for most of us, that the bees we see buzzing between strands of orange flowers of the desert mallow could potentially usher in a medical breakthrough. However, in the right hands, these insects best known for their banded coloration, social life and skills with pollination could some day be the key to advancements in biomedical neuroscience of aging – if Gro Amdam has her way, with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Amdam, an assistant professor in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences who heads social insect studies in laboratories at both ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences’ Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, is one of only 20 researchers chosen this year to enter the Trusts’ exclusive rolls as a Pew Scholar in the biomedical sciences. About 150 eligible colleges across the nation were invited to submit a candidate for the award this year. Remarkably, it was the first year that Arizona State University was invited to participate and Amdam was the sole candidate put forward by ASU President Michael M. Crow.

“The focus of this award – biomedical sciences – is an evolving area of emphasis for ASU,” says Crow. “The fact that the award is going to a researcher using the honeybee as a biomedical model exemplifies the spirit of ASU unconstrained by disciplinary boundaries.”

Robert Page, founding director of ASU’s School of Life Sciences and Amdam’s oft-time collaborator in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says he never had any doubt that the Pew Trusts would select Amdam, and that the award has special significance on several fronts: “This the first year that ASU was invited to nominate, so it marks our initiation as an institution into this select ’club.’ The fact that our faculty member was chosen also shows that ASU belongs in the club. Then, when you consider that this award is in the area of biomedical science and will support research using honeybees … it shows just how much the world of biology is changing and that comparative biology will be central even to the biomedical sciences.”

The Pew Charitable Trusts is composed of seven separate trusts established between 1948 and 1979 by the heirs of Joseph N. Pew, founder of the Sun Oil Company, and is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. It partners with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share its commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society.

“The Pew Scholars are among America’s finest biomedical research entrepreneurs. They seek out and mine unexpected leads in a quest for knowledge that may one day lead to new medical treatments and save lives,” says Rebecca W. Rimel, president and chief executive office of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

As a Pew Scholar, Amdam will receive a $240,000 award over four years to help support her research.

Among past Pew Scholars are Nobel Prize winners, such as Craig Mello from the University of Massachusetts, who shared the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Stanford’s Andrew Fire for their development of the RNA interference (RNAi) technique. Amdam’s research will make use of RNAi to study genes implicated in plasticity of honeybee neuronal aging.

Of the award, Amdam says, “In the scholarly system of Norway, where I come from, such recognitions are very rare, nearly unheard of. This is a great honor for me.” She also notes, “The award gives me a unique opportunity to take my research at ASU into the field of neuroscience, and neurogerontology in particular.”

According to Amdam, her Pew project will join two lines of study that have never been coupled: the emerging field of honeybee comparative neurogerontology – in which Amdam has published the first work on plasticity of neuronal oxidative damage – and honeybee behavioral physiology, where cumulative data show that age-related cell damage can be reversed. Amdam has authored or coauthored publications in Nature, Public Library of Science Biology, Advances in Cancer Research, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Experimental Gerontology and Behavioral Brain Research in the past year, laying the foundation for this work. Her group has documented that social reversal, which triggers old bees (that usually forage outside of the hive) to revert to tasks normally performed by younger bees (that nurse larvae within the hive), is associated with reversal of several physiological markers of senescence. Her findings, and supporting findings from other groups, Amdam says, indicate that “behavioral reversal triggers a systemic response, one which translates into a unique cascade of cell repair in bees.” Preliminary data collected in her laboratory suggest that this cascade can include the central nervous system.

“If social reversal causes arrest or partial clearance of neuronal oxidative damage, my project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts will establish the first model for neuronal oxidative remission,” Amdam notes.

Oxidative brain damage is a fundamental pathology in normal human aging and in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and development of novel treatments has high priority in biomedical research, says Amdam. Although she describes this line of discovery as risky, “its prospective contribution is of considerable relevance for human health.”

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

TGEN Research Team Identifies New Alzheimer’s Gene

Research Team Identifies New Alzheimer’s Gene

Powerful research tools and public data set opens new era in the genetic study of Alzheimer’s


PHOENIX, June 6, 2007--A study comparing more genetic markers in the DNA of people with and without Alzheimer’s disease than ever before has enabled researchers to identify a common gene that appears to increase a person's risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. The finding, announced today by researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), Banner Alzheimer's Institute, Kronos Science Laboratory and their collaborative partners, suggests that the gene - called GAB2 - modifies an individual's risk when associated with other genes, including APOE4. The study results appear in the June 7 issue of the prestigious peer-reviewed journal, Neuron.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of disabling memory and thinking problems in older people. The progressive neurological disorder afflicts an estimated 5 million Americans, a number expected to triple by 2050.

"We have entered a new era in medical research. Today's technologies permit us to survey a sufficient number of letters throughout the human genome to provide a clearer picture of how life works and ultimately allow better clinical management of patients," said Dr. Dietrich Stephan, Director of TGen's Neurogenomics Division and the paper's senior author, "These new, robust tools may eventually allow us to improve our ability to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, even before it strikes."

To date, the most significant gene found to predispose an individual to late onset Alzheimer's (LOAD) has been APOE4. In this latest study, researchers from seven organizations contributed to the genome-wide scan using Affymetrix microarray technology. The team screened the DNA from 1,400 individuals who had been clinically assessed with Alzheimer's prior death, and simultaneously examined more than 500,000 SNPs or genetic variations to characterize and confirm additional LOAD susceptibility genes. The search revealed GAB2.

Based on the genetics of this and other neuroscientific findings, researchers suggest the healthy form of the GAB2 gene may protect brain cells from developing tangles, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. If the findings are confirmed, this discovery could provide a target for future Alzheimer's therapeutic drugs.

"We hope that this study, along with the genome-wide genetics studies to come, will contribute to the clarification of Alzheimer's risk factors and disease mechanisms, the discovery of promising new disease-slowing and prevention therapies, and the identification of patients and at-risk people most likely to benefit from those treatments," said Dr. Eric Reiman, the study's first author and Executive Director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute.

After finding an association between a form of the GAB2 gene and Alzheimer's disease in three separate groups, the researchers showed that the GAB2 gene is unusually active in vulnerable brain cells from Alzheimer's patients and that the GAB2 protein produced by this gene is present in those brain cells containing tangles. When the researchers silenced GAB2 in preliminary studies it increased a molecular process thought to play an important role in the development of tangles. Based on these findings, the researchers hypothesize that GAB2 might function under normal conditions to compensate for the harmful effects of APOE4 and other genes in older people and that the GAB2 risk gene lacks this protective effect.

The study, funded by Kronos Science Laboratory, an affiliate of Phoenix-based Kronos Optimal Health Company, will enable Kronos to develop a test that aids in clinical diagnosis and help determine a person's genetic predisposition for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

"This discovery allows us to accelerate the development process for creating a new diagnostic test that is capable of detecting the presence of GAB2, and may ultimately help millions of individuals reach a more informed decision regarding the most appropriate type and timing of treatment," said Dr. Chris Heward, President of Kronos Science Laboratory.

Until recently, researchers lacked the technology to examine the genetic components of a disease at such a high-level of detail. By utilizing the Affymetrix 500K Arrays, the study's researchers rapidly produced a genetic map of each brain tissue sample and isolated the GAB2 gene relatively quickly.

"This Alzheimer's disease breakthrough is another powerful example of a fundamental life science discovery made by an Affymetrix customer. Our latest microarray technology continues to accelerate research at an unprecedented pace by enabling scientists to better identify the specific genetic variations associated with complex diseases," said Kevin King, President of Life Sciences Business and Executive Vice President at Affymetrix.

In addition to surveying an unprecedented number of genetic markers in each person's DNA, the researchers capitalized on extremely rigorous criteria to determine whether or not their volunteers had Alzheimer's. For instance, the study included more than 1000 brain donors confirmed to either have Alzheimer's disease or be free of the disorder at autopsy. This study resulted in a comprehensive set of high-quality data to be made publicly available to the research community. The researchers believe that deposition of this data set in the public domain will open a new era in Alzheimer research. When a scientist suspects a particular gene or pathway maybe implicated in Alzheimer's disease, they will use these data to see if there is genetic evidence supporting their idea. Reviewing these data in an hour will permit them to save months of work and thousands of dollars to achieve the same result. Moreover, it paves the way for even more advanced studies using larger sample populations, more powerful array chips that can distinguish more genetic markers, and more sophisticated methods of analyzing the data.

Study participants included TGen, Kronos Science Laboratory, Banner Alzheimer's Institute, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, the Netherlands Brain Bank, Sun Health Research Institute, and the Alzheimer's Disease Centers of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Aging.

# # #

About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is focused on developing earlier diagnoses and smarter treatments. Translational genomics research is a relatively new field employing innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project and applying them to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases. TGen’s research is based on personalized medicine and the institute plans to accomplish its goals through robust and disease-focused research.

About Banner Alzheimer's Institute
The Banner Alzheimer's Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides comprehensive clinical care for patients with memory and thinking problems; education, referral and support services for family and caregivers; and leading-edge research in clinical trials, brain imaging and genetics studies. The Institute is devoted to finding Alzheimer's disease-slowing and prevention treatments in the shortest time possible.

About Kronos
Kronos Science Laboratory (KSL) is a specialty clinical reference/research laboratory that explores and develops new and improved assays for the measurement of aging and early diagnosis of age-related diseases. Opened to the medical and scientific communities in 1999, the Phoenix-based laboratory offers collaborative and contract research services specializing in custom assay development, test validation, testing services, pharmacokinetics, and clinical trial experimental design. KSL provides specialty laboratory services to physicians, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies and other organizations engaging in clinical trials and basic research. KSL is licensed in 49 states and is committed to compliance with all applicable regulatory guidelines and accrediting standards including, but not limited to, CLIA, GCP, GLP and CMS. KSL, the Kronos Optimal Health Company (worksite wellness programs) and the Kronos Optimal Health Centre (executive health and personalized wellness programs) together provide an integrated health care delivery system designed to optimize human health and longevity. For more information, visit or

About Affymetrix
Affymetrix GeneChip® microarray technology is the industry-standard tool for analyzing complex genetic information. After inventing microarray technology in the late 1980s, Affymetrix scientists have been dedicated to developing innovative products that provide researchers with a more complete view of the genome. These products continue to accelerate genetic research and enable scientists to develop diagnostics and tailor treatments for individual patients by identifying and measuring the genetic information associated with complex diseases.

Today, Affymetrix technology is used by the world’s top pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotechnology companies, as well as leading academic, government and not-for-profit research institutes. More than 1,500 systems have been shipped around the world and more than 8,500 peer-reviewed papers have been published using the technology. Affymetrix Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFX) is headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., and has manufacturing facilities in Sacramento, Calif. and Singapore. The company has about 1,100 employees worldwide and maintains sales and distribution operations across Europe and Asia. For more information about Affymetrix, please visit the company’s website at

Biotech News
Bill Austin

Biotechnology Art Group Discusses Enablement of Antibody Claims

Biotech News
Biotechnology Art Group Discusses Enablement of Antibody Claims
Arizona High Tech Talent Partnership

biotechnology, chemical, and pharmaceuticals technology groups at the U.S. Patent Office held their quarterly customer partnership meeting on June 13, 2007. While the stated purpose of the meeting was merely to encourage dialog between practitioners, patent applicants, and the Office (i.e., not to announce PTO policy), the discussions did provide a helpful insight as to how these Art Units approach certain issues.

One discussion focused on enablement issues under 35 U.S.C. § 112 as applied to the examination of claims relating to antibodies. Larry R. Helms, Supervisory Patent Examiner for Art Unit 1643 presented a discussion of common enablement issues that Examiners encounter during examination of antibody inventions. After providing some general background discussion on antibody technology, Mr. Helms presented examples of three types of antibody claims and typical reasoning as to why each claim was enabled or not enabled, given particular disclosure in the specification, and the state of the prior art (typically referenced to around the late 80's to early 90's).

Plastic that grows on trees

Biotech News

Plastic that grows on trees
Scientists have discovered the most effective method yet to convert glucose, found in plants worldwide and nature's most abundant sugar, to HFM, a chemical that can be broken into components for products now made from petroleum. ...

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Genetics to Biotechnology

Genetics to Biotechnology
June 15th, 2007 — Diganta
It was always a challenging task for human beings to produce the ‘human-hormones’ outside a human body. The reward was well known. A disease caused by the lack of this particular hormone can be cured easily by injecting that artificially produced hormone.

Let’s take the case of Insulin. A patient of Diabetes requires regular injection of Insulin since their body fails to produce it naturally. Until 70’s, the major source of Insulin was domestic mammals like cow and pig. Due to close evolutionary relationship with human beings, this Insulin was almost similar to human insulin in structure. Hence, these sources used to work for most of the cases. However, there were side effects of this method – like skin rashes.

The advent of a couple of technological breakthrough changed the entire scenario. First, the DNA was discovered. Then it was established that the amino acid sequence in DNA strands are actually replicated in ribosome to produce different proteins. In other words, the DNA code on the chromosome works as a template to the protein produced in the cell. The other milestone was the discovery of Recombinant DNA – a form of DNA that is achieved by combination, insertion and deletion of more than one DNA strands.

Biotech News

Gwyn Riddick - N.C. Biotechnology Center

Biotech News

Gwyn Riddick: N.C. Biotechnology Center director helping to build a strong foundation for the emerging industry

Gwyn Riddick's career has covered a lot of ground -- from laboratory scientist to entrepreneur to educator. But two of the things that make the director of the Piedmont Triad office of the N.C. Biotechnology Center happiest and most proud are at home.

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Cowen Expands Biotechnology Research Team COWN

Biotech News

NEW YORK, June 14 Cowen Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: COWN) announced today the hiring of Rachel McMinn, who will join Cowen's Biotechnology Research Team as a Senior Analyst, effective in July. She will be based in San Francisco and report to Barry Tarasoff, Cowen's Head of Research.

"Rachel brings a very strong academic and professional background in healthcare and biotechnology to Cowen's research team," said Barry Tarasoff. "I am pleased to welcome her to the firm and believe her deep industry expertise further solidifies our position as one of the leading voices in biotechnology investing."

Prior to joining Cowen, Ms. McMinn was with Piper Jaffray for six years. At Piper, she was a senior research analyst specializing in infectious diseases, hematology and oncology. Rachel graduated magna cum laude with a degree in chemistry from Cornell University and earned a PhD in chemistry/biochemistry from The Scripps Research Institute.

About Cowen Group, Inc.

Cowen Group, Inc., through Cowen and Company, LLC and Cowen International Limited, provides investment banking services, including underwriting and other capital raising solutions, equity research, sales, trading and mergers and acquisitions advice, to emerging growth companies in sectors including healthcare, technology, alternative energy, media and telecommunications and consumer.


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