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May 14, 2009 | Entelos Shuffles Management; Karis, Blazei Exit 
Last week, modeling and simulation pioneer Entelos announced a shake up in its management ranks and appointed Jim Neal as acting president and acting CEO. The company also reported it is in advanced negotiations with candidates for the position of acting chief financial officer. Julie Thomas Goggin was named as its general counsel and corporate secretary.
 
Neal was most recently Entelos' chief business officer, and prior to that was the CEO of Iconix Biosciences, which Entelos acquired in 2007. Goggin was most recently the Entelos’ general counsel. James Karis, former CEO, and Alan Blazei, the former CFO and company secretary, are leaving the company. Jill Fujisaki, investor relations, also left the company said a spokesman. No details regarding the changes were disclosed.

Entelos has a portfolio of complex computational models of disease – PhysioLabs – which are used in discovery and development. Iconix has a large database of toxicology signatures (gene expression) for compounds and tools for mining the database and helping clients understand tox issues. It’s not clear if the rise of two Iconix executive, even on in interim basis, portends a shift in direction for Entelos, which went public on the AIM portion of the London Stock Exchange in April 2006. Like most biotechs, Entelos’s business has been hurt by the recession. Read release. 

Computational Analysis of H1N1 Mounted
As part of a broad-based effort to understand the genetic make-up of H1N1, a group of virologists and computational biologists from Columbia University Medical Center are analyzing the virus. A computational biology group led by Raul Rabadan, is analyzing recent sequences from samples in New York, Texas, Ohio, California, Spain, New Zealand, and parts of Asia, of swine H1N1 entered into the U.S. government’s National Center for Biotechnology Information database. The results generated by that publicly available data have so far been intriguing: All samples or “isolates” of the virus in North America indicate that it is almost entirely of swine origin, according to the preliminary research now published by Dr. Rabadan and his colleagues in the April 30, 2009 journal Eurosurveillance. Read article.

Applied Biosystems Launches Tools for Pathways
AB, a division of Life Technologies, introduced a new set of molecular tools for investigating the role of specific genes involved in more than 80 key biological pathways. The TaqMan Array Gene Signature Plates enable scientists to cost-effectively measure the activity of multiple gene targets known to be expressed in biological pathways, processes, or disease states. These tools, says AB, enable researchers to adopt a systems biology approach to investigate the role gene networks play in complex biological processes and molecular pathologies by performing real-time PCR assays to develop biomarkers based on patterns of gene expression. Read more.

GNS Wins REFS Platform Patent
The Patent (U.S. No. 7,512,497) is entitled "Systems and Methods for Inferring Biological Networks," and covers GNS's core model learning and simulation platform, REFS (Reverse Engineering and Forward Simulation). GNS has deployed the REFSTM platform in several collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and academic and clinical institutions in diseases areas such as oncology, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

The REFS platform, which is run on supercomputers, enables the rapid extraction of actionable, patient-specific knowledge directly from experimental and clinical data. "We have now extended our patent portfolio beyond our previous issued patents covering an ultra-efficient language to model known biology and the simulation of known pathways, to the fully data-driven inference and simulation of novel biology," said Tom Neyarapally, SVP, corporate development. Read release.

Hopfield to Receive 2009 Rosenblatt Award from IEEE
John Hopfield, the Howard A. Prior Professor Emeritus in the Life Sciences, Princeton, will receive the 2009 Frank Rosenblatt Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for his seminal contributions to the understanding of information processing in biological systems. Hopfield, a leading theoretician of biology with research interests spanning many disciplines, has focused on neurobiology for more than 20 years, investigating how the neural circuits of the brain perform complex calculations.

The award, established by the IEEE in 2004, is named in honor of the late Frank Rosenblatt, a pioneer in artificial intelligence who is widely recognized as founding the field of neural networks. These are computer systems designed to mimic the interconnected processing of neurons in the human brain. They may be used to gain an understanding of how the brain works or for solving problems.

Hopfield's work is mainly theoretical, employing computer simulations and mathematics. He is well known for his invention of a neural network in 1982 that is now more commonly known as the Hopfield network. Developed as a metaphor for how the brain works, this dynamical network has been widely adopted by computer program developers because it is so adept at recognizing patterns from partial information and at solving optimization problems. Read more.

BGM Launches Galectin-3 Website
Galectins are a unique class of proteins with a relatively high affinity for specific carbohydrate compounds. Accruing evidence indicates that galectins are important immunoregulatory mediators and research is ongoing in the role of galectins in health and disease. Users of the galectin-3 website can navigate to informational resources such as PubMed, which provides access to galectin-3 citations from biomedical literature, certain full-text articles, and other web-based resources.

BG Medicine has developed a new optimized assay for measurement of galectin-3 in plasma or serum and anticipates clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European authorities later in 2009 for clinical use. BG Medicine also launched of a galectin-3 assay service for research purposes only. Researchers interested in submitting study samples for galectin-3 analysis can order such services from the galectin-3 website: http://www.galectin-3.com/

Computers Helping Superbug Study
Researchers at Edinburgh University studied computer software which could help develop more effective antibiotic treatments. The study also encourages scientific researchers to pool their findings to provide a more reliable approach to the growth of bacteria and how they become more resistant to antibiotics. Scientists believe a similar approach to that used in this study, published in the BMC Systems Biology journal, could also increase understanding into the spread and treatment of cancer.

Dr Laurence Leowe, of Edinburgh University's School of Biological Sciences, said: "The emergence of superbugs resistant to antibiotics is a growing threat to healthcare, and integrating our existing knowledge about bacteria is challenging. Using computing power to model the complex pathways by which bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics could help find a fresh way to predict how superbugs evolve - and so help to fight them." Superbugs such as MRSA are forms of bacteria resistant to more than one antibiotic and can infect areas such as open surgical wounds. Read article.

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This article first appeared in Bio-IT World’s Predictive Biomedicine newsletter. Click here for a free subscription.

 

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