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Short News & Analysis

August 6, 2009 | GeneGo Gets NIH Grant to Develop PGx Software
The SBIR grant, funded through the innovations in biomedical computational science and technology initiative, will be used to develop a database and systems biology tool-set specifically designed for the study of mutations and sequence heterogeneity in human genes and their controlling regions, as well as the biological consequences of sequence variations on disease susceptibility and drug response.

“Genome-wide association studies and next-generation resequencing projects are already generating vast amounts of data on genetic factors contributing to disease susceptibility and variability in the pharmacological and toxicological effects of drugs,” said Richard Brennan, director of toxicology at GeneGo and PI on the grant. “What is lacking are powerful tools for researchers to be able to link these sequence variations to the specific mechanisms and biological pathways driving idiosyncratic outcomes. The product will smooth the progress of personalized medicine by facilitating the application of personal genetic profiling to identify optimal therapeutic strategies.” Read release.

Hutch leader Hartwell will Retire Next June
Nobel Laureate Lee Hartwell will retire next year as director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. His departure comes at a time when the Hutch is generally acknowledged as the nation's premier basic cancer research institution. But the organization is approaching a crossroads: Will it continue to stress basic research or shift toward more "translational" studies aimed at moving science out of the laboratory and into the clinic? Read Seattle Time article.

Celera Restructures; Will Cut Workforce 13%
Celera announced it is implementing an immediate restructuring program, which includes the elimination of approximately 80 full-time positions nationally, or 13% of the workforce. This includes a reduction and redeployment of resources at BHL, which is expected to provide a more efficient disease management model focused on web and telephone support. The Company expects to incur a charge in connection with the restructuring in the third quarter of 2009.

"We believe these restructuring actions allow us to optimize our organization to best take advantage of future opportunities for growth while addressing current business conditions and reducing costs," said Kathy Ordoñez, Chief Executive Officer of Celera. "We are increasing resources dedicated to supporting the adoption of our differentiated, high value proprietary genetic tests, such as KIF6, that we believe present large market opportunities. Our pilot market for the StatinCheck version of KIF6 has helped us identify what we believe to be promising opportunities to work with other companies to complement our internal efforts to drive adoption and incorporation of our genetic testing into routine clinical care. We also expect to increase our genetic test menu through the launch of LPA testing at BHL during the fourth quarter." Read release.

IO Informatics Unveils Applied Semantic Knowledgebase
“ASK allows you to move beyond traditional data capture and integration to realize practical value from the knowledge contained in your data. It provides a collection of specific models, built directly from your research, which can be applied to visualizing and validating data-driven hypotheses, as well as for knowledge-based screening and decision making,” according to CEO Robert Stanley. Read release.

Genedata Launches Expressionist Migration Program
The new bundle includes the Genedata Expressionist system and a targeted set of professional services and is intended to provides researchers with tools and services for the migration of microarray, mass spectrometry and related data from legacy and proprietary systems.

“While the landscape of bioinformatics vendors is ever-changing, the research process must continue uninterrupted,” said Dr. Othmar Pfannes, CEO of Genedata. “The Expressionist Migration Program is an offering packaged specifically for those researchers whose organizations may be in a state of flux due to new market conditions.” Read release.

Definiens Completes ISO 9001
Definiens completed the certification process for the worldwide common quality management standards DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 and EN ISO 13485:2007. “Aligning the company’s structure and processes to meet the requirements of DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 certification represents a significant milestone for Definiens,” said Wolfgang Rencken, COO in a release. Read release.

DNA Software Gets 3 Fast Track SBIR Grants
The NIH grant are to develop original in silico technologies to predict 3D structures of RNA-based molecules, improve diagnostics via modified nucleotides, and model the reaction rates of DNA and RNA experiments. The company successfully completed its milestones for Phase I of each project and recently began work on Phase II. Read release.

GeneGo Donates Cytokine Pathway Maps to ISICR
41 maps were donated to the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research ( The donated maps describe the role of interferons and cytokines in the immune response, development (via a variety of growth hormones), cell cycle, apoptosis, survival, cell adhesion and chemotaxis.

“The ISICR is very grateful for receiving permission from GeneGo to include these maps in the ISICR slide repository. This repository, available to ISICR members, currently has over 500 slides that members can use for seminars, courses, lectures, etc. The addition of the GeneGo pathways will certainly provide ISICR members with an exceptionally valuable educational tool,” said Howard Young, Past President ISICR. Read release.

Microsoft Issues Presentation Call for BioIT Alliance Meeting
The first annual 2009 BioIT Alliance Meeting and Conference will be held October 8 and 9, at the Microsoft Research and Development Center, Cambridge, MA. “With most drug discovery organizations relying on paper and nothing electronic and sharable outside the small lab workgroup, the BioIT Alliance formed with the vision of promoting integration and collaboration between these organizations to accelerate the realization of personalized medicine,” said Les Jordan, U.S. life sciences industry chief technology strategist at Microsoft and executive director of the BioIT Alliance. The call for presentations will close Aug. 28. For more information.

Biovista Reports Positive Results for BVA-601 for Epilepsy
BVA-601 has shown positive results in the Kainic acid murine model of temporal lobe epilepsy. BVA-601, is an existing drug that Biovista repositioned in epilepsy, exhibits both anti-epileptic and neuroprotective activity. In this pre-clinical trial, BVA-601 induced a statistically significant decrease of epileptic activity in mice pre-treated with Kainic acid. Read release.

Agilent Technologies to Acquire Varian for $1.5 Billion
The acquisition broadens Agilent’s applications and solutions offerings in Life Sciences, Environmental, and Energy and Materials. It also expands Agilent’s product portfolio into atomic and molecular spectroscopy; establishes a leading position in NMR, imaging and vacuum technologies; and strengthens its consumables portfolio. “This acquisition is a major step in Agilent’s transformation into a leading bio-analytical measurement company,” said Bill Sullivan, Agilent’s president and CEO. Read release.

Mid Summer Sys Bio Reading, Listening, and (Web) Site-Seeing
Harvard Medical School professor Walter discusses Web 2.0 tools for systems biology in Focus article ( Check out, Scale-Free Networks: A Decade and Beyond, by Albert-László Barabási, published online in Science ( Listen to Reinhard Laubenbacher, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute professor and adjunct professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, Wake Forest University, discuss impact of Systems Biology on cancer research ( The New York Academy of Sciences has launched a new web site,

Predictive Modeling for Healthcare Summit
The Third National Predictive Modeling Summit will be held September 14 - 15 in Washington DC.

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

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