Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Novel Technologies For Gene Expression

New Collaboration Aims To Expand Seed-Based Technologies, Benefit Farmers
GrassRoots and Monsanto Collaborate To Identify Novel Technologies For Gene Expression; Gene Discovery Another Focus of Collaboration

Jan. 27 As farmers look to get more out of each acre of farmland, St. Louis-based Monsanto is exploring unique ways to discover and deliver more desirable traits through the seed. Monsanto's new collaboration with GrassRoots Biotechnology Inc. is expected to do just that by expanding the benefits of Monsanto's research and product portfolio for its farmer customer.

Today, Monsanto announced that it has established a three-year collaboration with GrassRoots Biotechnology Inc., based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to source novel genetic elements, including promoters and genes, which can enable crops to express traits that enhance and protect yield.

Promoters are segments of DNA that determine when and where a trait is expressed within a plant. Monsanto will use the promoters sourced from GrassRoots in a broad range of crops, including corn, soy, cotton and canola, to optimize an array of biotechnology traits.

GrassRoots is a start-up company co-founded by Duke University professor, Philip Benfey, a leader in plant biology research. GrassRoots uses a variety of methods, including computational approaches, to identify promoter candidates. Once specific promoter sequences are identified, the information can be further used to design novel promoters for the expression of desirable traits in plants.

"The availability of high-quality promoters with specific expression patterns for use in commercial products is limited, so there is value in developing novel promoters to drive new traits," said Steve Padgette, vice president of biotechnology for Monsanto.

"A robust promoter toolbox can further leverage Monsanto's extensive gene library and lead to the development of more biotechnology-based crop products with a greater number of characteristics such as higher yield, and tolerance to insects, weeds and other stresses," Padgette said.

Such tools will be critical in helping Monsanto meet its sustainability goal of doubling yields in core crops by 2030, he said.

"We will need to use the best technologies available to maximize the potential of these crops," Padgette said.

Another goal of the collaboration is to identify genes that help plants fight environmental stresses such as nitrogen deficiency. The collaboration is expected to build upon Monsanto's research philosophy of developing valuable families of technologies for the challenges farmers routinely face on farm.

"We are excited to form an alliance with Monsanto," said Philip Benfey, president and chief executive of GrassRoots. "Our technologies and expertise combined with Monsanto's commercialization pipeline will provide a means of rapidly moving new genes and promoters into the field."

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large- scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: .

About GrassRoots Biotechnology

GrassRoots Biotechnology, Inc. is a start-up company based in Research Triangle Park, NC. The company was founded to advance and commercialize technologies developed by co-founder Dr. Philip Benfey in his laboratory at Duke University. GrassRoots' core technology, the RootArray system, makes it possible to monitor gene expression within developing plant roots, thus providing new insight into the mechanism of genetic control of plant development. The RootArray facilitates the discovery of genes and gene promoters that could produce higher-yielding crops better able to withstand environmental stresses, like drought and nitrogen deficiency.

GrassRoots also is developing an energy program to create enhanced biofuel crops. Independently, GrassRoots is developing a bioenergy research program. The company is creating enhanced biofuel feedstocks with increased biomass, more accessible cellulose to facilitate processing, and roots that sequester greater amounts of carbon.

Forward-Looking Statements:

Certain statements contained in this press release are forward-looking statements, such as statements concerning the company's future product performance, regulatory approvals, business and financial plans and other non- historical facts. These statements are based on current expectations and currently available information. However, since these statements are based on factors that involve risks and uncertainties, the company's actual performance and results may differ materially from those described or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, among others: the success of the companies' research and development activities; the costs of and the companies' abilities to access and enforce intellectual property needed for the collaboration; the costs and requirements of regulatory compliance and the speed with which approvals are received; public acceptance of biotechnology products; and other risks and factors detailed in the company's most recent periodic report to the SEC. Undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements, which are current only as of the date of this presentation. The company disclaims any current intention or obligation to update any forward-looking statements or any of the factors that may affect actual results.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company

Contact: Riddhi Trivedi-St. Clair (314) 694-4490

Web site:

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

FDA Clears Geron to Begin Clinical Testing

FDA Clears Geron to Begin Clinical Testing of hESC Product Genetic Engineering News (press release) - New Rochelle,NY,USA The FDA is allowing Geron to initiate a Phase I trial using its human embryonic stem cell (hESC) product, GRNOPC1, in patients with acute spinal cord injury ...

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Text-book of Anatomy By D J Cunningham, Arthur Robinson

Text-book of Anatomy By D J Cunningham, Arthur Robinson: "WEIGHT OF THE BRAIN The average weight of the adult male brain may be said to be about 1360 grammes The female brain weighs rather less but this is to be expected from the smaller bulk of the female body Probably the relative weight of the brain in the two sexes is very much the same The variations met with in brain weight are very great but it is doubtful if normal intellectual functions could be carried on in a brain which weighs less than 960 grammes In microcephalic idiots brains of extremely small size are met with"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare Phoenix Conference

Upcoming Phoenix conference highlights TGen’s and Scottsdale Healthcare’s contributions to 'molecular oncology' for cancer doctors and their patients

'The Sixth Vital Sign' runs Jan. 22-24 at the Arizona Grand Resort


PHOENIX, Ariz. – Jan. 8, 2009 – Physician-scientists from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Scottsdale Healthcare will present their latest findings and techniques at a national conference designed to provide cancer doctors with new treatments for their patients.
"Molecular Oncology: The Sixth Vital Sign, What Every Oncologist Should Know" is intended to help cancer doctors provide better diagnosis, early detection as well as drugs and other treatments that in some cases can slow the growth or even shrink tumors.

"Given the explosion of new information on the genetic and cellular features of malignancy, the modern oncologist must master the significance and application of cancer-related sciences," said Dr. Ramesh K. Ramanathan, Medical Director of TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, a partnership between TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare Corp.

Beyond the five vital signs of pulse, respiration, temperature, blood pressure and pain, is a new sixth vital sign – molecular therapeutics. This is the ability to identify the causes of disease at the molecular level in order to provide the right drugs in the right amounts at the right times for the specific needs of individual patients; what is becoming better known in health circles as personalized medicine.

"This gap in knowledge and its application in clinical practice will be addressed in this conference," said Dr. Ramanathan, a Senior Investigator at TGen.

Dr. Ramanathan is the co-program director of the conference, along with Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen's Physician-In-Chief and the Chief Scientific Officer at TCRS. Both doctors conduct groundbreaking personalized-medicine research and clinical drug trials at TCRS in Scottsdale, and both are on the clinical faculty of the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Both will present at the conference.

Other TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare scientists scheduled to present include: Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Scientific Director; Dr. Raoul Tibes, Director of the Hematological Malignancies Program at TCRS and an Associate Investigator at TGen; Dr. Stephen P. Anthony, Chief Medical Officer of TGen Drug Development Services (TD2) and a Senior Investigator at TGen; Dr. John Carpten, Director of TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division and a Senior Investigator at TGen; and Gayle Jameson, M.S.N., Director of Supportive Care at TCRS and an Associate Investigator at TGen.

Besides oncologists, the target audience includes all physicians and health professionals involved in caring for cancer patients, and researchers interested in new cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.

Key objectives of the conference include:

-- Explaining the molecular and cellular features of malignancy in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to the treatment of cancer, and identifying new diagnostic tools.

-- Assessing the effects and early clinical results of new, targeted drug therapies on solid tumors and malignant blood cancers.

-- Identifying new drug therapies that optimize treatment results and minimize side effects in specific biologic and clinical scenarios.

-- Evaluating clinical trials and translational methods of care and their proper use in clinical decision-making and patient management.

The conference is sponsored by TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare's Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center and Physicians' Education Resource (PER) of Dallas. The conference is certified for Continuing Medical Education.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

$15M in life science grants available

$15M in life science grants available

Starting Jan. 1, private biotechnology companies can apply for public funds through the state’s Life Sciences initiative.

“If you are a company with a great idea who finds that the current funding environment is failing you, these grants might be a good fit for you, “ said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President Susan Windham-Bannister.

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is looking for applicant companies that will create jobs, contribute to the scientific base of knowledge in the Commonwealth and improve the quality of life for citizens. State officials will also give consideration to the geographic distribution of grants around the state.

The state has $15 million dollars to hand out. The state allotted $25 million for the grants, but it was reduced due to the state budget deficit.

According to Robert Coughlin, President of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, the money could be just the kickstart a young company needs, “No doubt the biggest issue our industry faces in this economy is access to capital. These funds are needed and come at a crucial time,” Coughlin said.

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