Friday, 4 February 2011

45-minute presumptive identification of H1N1 novel strain expected

Cepheid has announced the accelerated development of a Flu A (Influenza Virus) Panel test for use on the GeneXpert System. The test will be designed to provide 45-minute identification of Flu A infection, with specific presumptive identification of seasonal H1, seasonal H3, and H1N1 novel strain types. Following review of the Request for Consideration for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the test is expected to be authorized for use during the upcoming influenza season, with product shipments beginning in January 2010.

Heart disease: cholesterol efflux capacity may be the key measurement

The discovery that high levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the 'good cholesterol') are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease has fostered intensive research to modify HDL levels for therapeutic gain. However, recent findings have called into question the notion that pharmacologic increases in HDL cholesterol levels are necessarily beneficial to patients.

Now, a study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shows that a different metric, a measure of HDL function called cholesterol efflux capacity, is more closely associated with protection against heart disease than HDL cholesterol levels themselves. Findings from the study could lead to improved understanding of the mechanism behind new therapeutic interventions in the fight against heart disease. The research was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Atherosclerosis, a major risk factor of heart disease, occurs with a buildup of fatty materials such as cholesterol along the artery wall. Cholesterol efflux capacity, one measure of HDL function, is a direct measure of the efficiency by which a person’s HDL removes cholesterol from cholesterol-loaded macrophages (a type of white blood cell), the sort that accumulate in arterial plaque. According to the new research, increasing efflux capacity decreased the atherosclerotic plaque development, hence decreasing the likelihood of having coronary artery disease.

Ceramic speech valve offers new hope to throat cancer patients

Manufacturer of ceramic components Morgan Technical Ceramics is working with UK"s University of Hull spin out company, Avoco Medical Ltd, on a pioneering speech-restoration project for patients with throat cancer. The company is taking to market a new patent-protected speech valve that uses zirconia ceramic components which enable valve life to increase, resulting in less frequent valve changes for patients. This improves quality of life for patients and reduces cost to healthcare providers.

Up to 15 per cent of patients diagnosed with throat cancer every year require a laryngectomy (removal of the larynx) which results in speech loss. Some speech and vocal function can be restored through the use of valves which reconnect the trachea (wind pipe) and oesophagus (food pipe). Current valve designs consist of a tube (stent) and incorporate a flap which opens as air is forced through.

Traditionally the valve is made from silicone rubber, but as the material is exposed to a hostile and non-sterile environment a biofilm develops on the surface. As a result, the performance of the valve deteriorates so that it has to be replaced, typically every three months, which is a distressing procedure for the patient and costly to the health service.

Ceramic is a more attractive material because of its stability, biocompatibility and compliance. It has a hard, impervious surface which makes it more resistant to the hostile environment. Laboratory tests have shown that ceramic valves should last more than two years - at least eight times longer than silicone ones.

“We started this project with Avoco Medical two years ago and are pleased that our Zyranox zirconia ceramic has proven to be highly resistant to biofilm during extensive laboratory testing,” says Yannick Galais, Morgan Technical Ceramics. “This longer lifetime of the valve generates less trauma for the patient as the device does not have to be changed so often and it also delivers cost saving for all medical parties.”

“We approached Morgan Technical Ceramics for their ceramics expertise and manufacturing excellence,” says Professor Michael Fagan, Technical Director, Avoco Medical. “The Kingston speech valve includes three ceramic components which need to be precision manufactured so they work together properly. The company has the ability to manufacture the parts to tight tolerances and complex geometries, which is essential to providing high quality and reliable valves.”

Morgan Technical Ceramics offers bespoke components in Zyranox, which is biocompatible and complies with ISO13356 certification for ‘implants for surgery using nonmetallic materials’.

Custom design implantable components are also available in Vitox alumina and Vitox AMC (Alumina Matrix Composite) materials, both complying with the ISO 6474 standards. Applications include reconstructive joints, neurostimulation housings for cochlear implants, Vergus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) and Implantable Pulse Generators (IPG).

CIT appoints Dr François Spézia head of reproductive toxicology department

CIT, a leading European non-clinical CRO, announces today the appointment of Dr François Spézia as head of its reproductive toxicology department. This appointment is a response to growing demand from CIT’s clients for reproductive toxicology studies. These generated 10 per cent of the company’s revenues in 2010, up 25 per cent on 2009.

CIT is one of the few CROs in Europe to have a department devoted solely to reproductive toxicology. The department is staffed by a team of 11 people who are highly experienced and have conducted 183 reprotoxicology studies since 2005.

Enabling technology for next-generation sequencing

Agilent Technologies Inc has announced that it was awarded a US patent for the process used in on-array capture of genomic elements for downstream analysis, including next- generation sequencing.

The patent was issued for a method that uses oligonucleotide probes attached to a solid support as a sequence-specific affinity agent to isolate and facilitate the amplification of a defined nucleic acid fragment mixture. Target enrichment is a critical technique to streamline workflows by letting researchers sequence just the genomic regions of interest rather than entire genomes.

“This patent is another example of Agilent’s innovation and leadership in providing tools for targeted re-sequencing,” said Robert Schueren, Agilent vice president, Genomics. “We are committed to growing our in-solution and on-array SureSelect products, offering scientists unmatched technology for research using next-generation sequencing.”

Last year, Agilent joined researchers from the Max Planck Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and other prestigious institutions worldwide to show that the DNA capture techniques described in the patent greatly enabled the sequencing of ancient Neandertal DNA, providing new insight into the nature of these prehistoric hominids. The method, published in the May 7, 2010 issue of the journal Science, uses two rounds of “target enrichment” procedure to enrich ancient DNA from rare and precious bone samples so it can be sequenced.

Agilent Technologies

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Collaboration to develop HIV viral load test

Cepheid and FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics) today announced a new collaboration to accelerate the development of a rapid molecular test for the measurement of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) viral load.

The Xpert HIV viral load test, which will run on Cepheid's GeneXpert(R) platform, is expected to complement the ground-breaking Xpert MTB/RIF test for tuberculosis (TB) and drug-resistance, the result of a collaboration between Cepheid, FIND and other partners which was profiled in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine and endorsed by the World Health Organization in late 2010.

Under the agreement, FIND will also obtain concessionary pricing in developing countries for Cepheid's sexually transmitted diseases (STD) test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, currently under development. The resulting program is expected to deliver the benefits of rapid and accurate molecular testing for TB, HIV and STDs using a single instrument in some of the most challenging geographies across the globe.

Lab automation software Nexxis ELN supports Microsoft Office

Labtronics Inc, a leader in laboratory automation, has released Nexxis ELN 5.05 with support for Microsoft Office including Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Nexxis ELN uses ReDI technology to rapidly configure ELN worksheets. With the release of version 5.05, ReDI now provides full support for the Office suite of products. Fully functional Microsoft products can be embedded right into ELN worksheets.

Customers with existing Excel spreadsheets can now deploy ELN much more quickly by using the files they already have. Alternatively, customers can develop new Excel spreadsheets and embed them into ELN worksheets to make use of all of the powerful functionality found in Excel, such as macros, graphics and complex calculations. Data can be transparently exchanged between Excel and the ELN worksheet.

Microsoft Word can also be embedded into Nexxis ELN worksheets to create a rich environment for developing complex reports. All of the functionality in Word is supported by Nexxis ELN.

PowerPoint users can now embed training slide shows and videos right into their ELN worksheets, eliminating the need for users to open separate training material. PowerPoint also provides an alternative to native ELN capabilities for displaying graphics. You can have a complete slide show containing pictures of samples on a single page in ELN.

Labtronics Inc

Forensic drug testing

As drug abuse and drug related crimes continue to prevail, expert forensic analysis is fundamental to the justice process. Global diagnostic company Randox Laboratories has released a number of new products for drug testing in public and private laboratories worldwide.

Local scientists and engineers at their UK headquarters design and manufacture products including traditional homogeneous methodology, pioneering Biochip Array Technology and Quality Management solutions. As the demand for forensic investigations is at an all time high, toxicologists are under pressure to produce case evidence without delay. Such evidence is vital to understanding events such as road accidents, poisoning and other causes of death. Testing of biological samples can be used to determine the presence of legal and illegal substances which may have been an influencing factor.

In 2010 Randox released a Drugs of Abuse array (DoA I+), adding to their considerable test menu of legal and illegal drugs. Tests available include; amphetamine, methamphetamine, barbituates, benzodiazepine 1 and 2, cannabinoids, cocaine metabolite, methadone, opiates and phencyclidine, buprenorphine, fentanyl, generic opioids, ketamine, LSD, MDMA, methaqualone, oxycodone 1 and 2, propoxyphene, MDMA, Buprenorphine and TCA. All tests are measured simultaneously from a single sample.

A number of drugs analytes are grouped and carried out on a biochip to allow for consolidated testing. Biochip Array Technology has been a ground-breaking development in the practice of forensic analysis, creating a reduction in the amount of time spent on individual tests. The multi-marker process allows toxicologists to determine a substantial amount of information from a small volume of sample, where sample is often limited. Most importantly the technology incorporating proven ELISA principles, provides accurate and reliable results which can be relied on in court.

Forensic evidence may be used in court, therefore it is crucial to have quality assured products and procedures in place. Randox manufacture antibodies onsite allowing them to sustain quality while continually expanding their test portfolio. Randox also offer drug testing solutions for clinical toxicology, workplace drug testing and onsite testing environments.


Cell therapy leaders meet to shape the future

During the exclusive Cell Therapy Summit Europe 2011 (CTS Europe 2011) cell therapy leaders will meet to discuss the needs of the cell therapy sector and shape innovation paths for the future.

Dr Paula Salmikangas, vice-chair of the Committee for Advanced Therapies (CAT) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has joined the conference to discuss future regulatory needs including the usefulness of additional guidance for drug development. In addition, industry CEOs, investors and leading scientists will discuss key issues in product development, financing, production and commercialization. Registration is open.

The list of renowned speakers includes:

* Ronnda L Bartel, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, Aastrom Biosciences Inc.
* Gil Beyen, Chief Executive Officer, Tigenix.
* Eduardo Bravo, Chief Executive Officer, Cellerix.
* Brad Calvin , Vice President & General Manager, Flow Cytometry, Beckman Coulter.
* Frederic Chereau, President & Chief Executive Officer, Pervasis Therapeutics.
* Edward Field, Chief Business Officer, Aldagen.
* Gilles Nobecourt, Head of Life Sciences, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners.

The interactive programme examines the entire development and commercialization process for cell therapies. Registered participants can contribute to further program development by sending in views, ideas, case study examples, or questions. CTS Europe 2011 will be on March 10-11 at Château St. Gerlach, Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Cell Therapy Summit Europe 2011 is organized by the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, PharmaCell and Limburg Ventures.

Co-market agreement for Bioanalyzer and Pippin Prep DNA Systems

Agilent Technologies Inc and Sage Science Inc announced yesterday that they have signed a co-marketing agreement involving Agilent’s 2100 Bioanalyzer, used for the detection and quantification of nucleic acids, and Sage’s Pippin Prep DNA size-selection system.

The agreement between Sage and Agilent includes the copromotion of the respective products and development of application studies that will leverage the synergies of the two systems for next-generation sequencing applications.

“We are very pleased to be working with Agilent; our companies’ products are clearly complementary for the size-selection steps in next-generation sequencing,” said Gary Magnant, Sage CEO. “The high sensitivity of the 2100 Bioanalyzer kits provides superb analysis of DNA size distributions, with minimal sample consumption.”

Proper preparation and quality control of the input sample, as well as the library, are essential to achieving high-fidelity data in the next-generation sequencing workflow. The Pippin Prep, which automates DNA size selection for creating libraries, together with Agilent’s 2100 Bioanalyzer, the market-leading tool for sample and library quality control, advances and streamlines sample preparation.

“The Pippin Prep instrument from Sage and Agilent’s Bioanalyzer together offer a synergistic set of tools that enable researchers working with next-generation sequencing platforms to advance their research faster and more efficiently,” said Knut Wintergerst, electrophoresis marketing and support manager, Agilent.

Sage Science

Agilent Technologies

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Biomedical labels at MEDTEC UK

Industrial nameplate and logo specialist Diametric will be attending MEDTEC UK this April to showcase its industrial labels including its biomedical labels, which can help protect patients from infections such as MRSA and CDI.

In January, the Health Protection Agency released the latest figures for infections caught within 151 primary care organisations. During the period November 2009 – November 2010, there were 1,808 meticillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) cases recorded and 25,600 cases of clostridium difficile infection (CDI).

On the 6th and 7th April, Diametric will be exhibiting at MEDTEC UK; a dedicated conference and exhibition focusing on medical device design and manufacturing in the UK. It will be showcasing its nameplates, labels and badges for the medical sector.

“The medical industry expects and requires very high standards because they need to ensure patient safety. We work with a number of global medical suppliers and understand exceptionally high standards and requirements of these organisations,” said Pete Knight, Director at Diametric. “One area we are keen to promote is our biomedical labels which contain Microban antimicrobial protection to help ward off infections such as MRSA and CDI. Whether the need is for functional overlays or more decorative product badging we can help ensure the equipment is safe to help protect patients during their stay.”

Microban is added to the polyester during the manufacturing process of the biomedical labels. It offers lifetime protection, working continuously to inhibit the growth of microbes, such as bacteria, mould and mildew that can cause stains, odours and deterioration of a product.



New pancreatic cancer trial

Dr Tanios Bekaii-Saab, medical director of gastrointestinal oncology at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G James Cancer Hospital and Richard J Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James), is leading a new, two-arm, randomized phase II pancreatic cancer clinical trial that will study a formulation of the human reovirus that is designed to kill cancer cells.

Expected to enroll approximately 70 patients with pancreatic cancer, both at Ohio State and at other institutions, the study will compare the effects of two courses of treatment. One group of patients will be given the chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel. The other group will be given these two medications plus Reolysin, an engineered version of the human reovirus developed by Oncolytics Biotech Inc of Calgary.

Reolysin works by replicating inside of, and subsequently destroying, cancer cells that have a certain characteristic (called an activated RAS pathway) that is shared by about two-thirds of all cancers. The drug targets tumor cells and leaves healthy, normal cells unharmed. Reolysin appears to kill cancer cells by rupturing their walls.

Improving respiratory parameters in obstructive sleep apnea patients

Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc announced top-line results from an exploratory clinical study with its AMPAKINE compound, CX1739 in subjects with sleep apnea. The study enrolled 20 relatively healthy adults with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea, 16 of which were administered a single oral dose of CX1739 and 4 of which received matching placebo for one night. The objective of the study was to further explore safety and tolerability in the sleep apnea population, as well as to assess putative efficacy of CX1739 on a range of sleep apnea parameters assessed by overnight polysomnography.

“The results from this pilot study are encouraging, and warrant undertaking a larger clinical study to better understand the sleep apnea patient population most responsive to the treatment of CX1739.”

The study demonstrated that selected oxygen saturation parameters were statistically improved by one dose of CX1739, but the interpretation of these results was complicated by a reduced sleep time during the night following drug treatment. CX1739 did not reduce the mean apnea/hypopnea index (AHI; frequency of apnea or hypopnea events per hour of sleep). However, in the AHI responder analysis, defined as a greater than 40% reduction in the AHI, three subjects (20%) in the CX1739 treatment group were responders, and there were no responders in the placebo group. Furthermore, CX1739 significantly (p<0.05) reduced the apnea/hypopnea time (AHT; cumulative time of all apneas and hypopneas over the night) between the baseline and the treatment night by an average of 21 min, compared to an increase of 12 min in the placebo group. In the AHT responder analysis, defined as a greater than 40% reduction in the AHT, five subjects (30%) in the drug treatment group were responders, with no AHT responders in the placebo group.

Do you think your microtitre plates are cold enough on ice?

Used as an interface between a microplate and crushed ice, the BioCision CoolSink thermo-conductive plate holder provides fast equilibration of all wells to below 4ºC and excellent well-to-well temperature uniformity.

Many experimental and clinical applications require low temperature control for culture plates. However, a new Application Note published in BioTechniques1 demonstrates that although it is commonly assumed that a plate in direct contact with crushed ice will rapidly equilibrate below 4ºC, this is not the case.

In fact, the unstable nature of crushed ice and insulating air gaps between plate and ice mean that uniform and reproducible cooling are very difficult to achieve. Brian Schryver and Rolf Ehrhardt, MD, PhD found that for 96-well plates placed directly onto crushed ice, the average well temperature was 6.7ºC, significantly above the critical threshold of 4ºC. Furthermore, the well-to-well temperature variation was as wide as 3ºC.

By contrast, placing a plate on BioCision’s thermo-conductive CoolSink and then putting the assembly on ice brings all wells to or below 4oC and the well-to-well temperature range was more uniform. The addition of an aqueous conductive medium (ACM) to replace air between the plate and CoolSink surface further enhanced results, with even faster equilibration to a final temperature of 3.3ºC, and less than 1ºC variation between wells2.

According to co-author Brian Schryver, BioCision Vice President, Research and Product Development: "CoolSink’s precision-engineered 'direct contact' stage design eliminates the insulating air gap typically found between plate wells and the resting surface. The module’s excellent thermo-conductivity, due to its patented novel alloy construction, gives fast equilibration to below 4ºC, and using an ACM produces near identical well temperatures. This set-up provides a very simple way for researchers to ensure that all their samples are treated uniformly with no 'plate edge effect'. CoolSink is an ideal tool for increasing the reproducibility of results in a variety of applications, such as cell-based assays, ELISA, FACS staining and analysis, migration or adhesion studies, temperature shift assays or any work with temperature-sensitive biomarkers."

1 Brian Schryver and Rolf O. Ehrhardt, MD, PhD, ‘Improved thermal management of microtiter plates using the BioCision CoolSink’, BioTechniques 49:845–846, November 2010.
2 Brian Schryver and Rolf O. Ehrhardt, MD, PhD, ‘Improved thermal management of microtiter plates using the BioCision CoolSink’, BioTechniques 49:845–846, November 2010, Figure 2.


Free public database of exclusive genomic information

Sigma Life Science, the biological products and services business of Sigma-Aldrich, today announced that its SAGE Labs initiative has partnered with Cofactor Genomics in an effort to sequence genomes for six of the most widely used strains of rat. As part of the agreement, Cofactor Genomics plans to generate and analyze sequence data using next generation sequencing systems, while SAGE Labs plans to provide the samples and to host a new, free public database at in late 2011. The database will include exclusive genomic information and analysis tools.

Understanding how cell division mistakes lead to human disorders

BSC1 cells during cell division imaged on a DeltaVision Imaging System
Imaging technology supplied by Preston-based Image Solutions (UK) Ltd (Imsol) is helping scientists at the University of Sussex’s Centre for Genome Damage and Stability (CGDS) to get a better understanding of how mistakes made during the process of cell division can lead to disorders and diseases within humans.

The CGDS houses 16 research groups, all focused on different aspects of DNA damage responses and genome instability. One of the groups, managed by Wellcome Trust

Senior Fellow Dr Helfrid Hochegger, uses Imsol’s DeltaVision Core and Personal DV imaging systems in order to better understand the activities of enzymes known as kinases. Successful cell separation depends on kinase activity and as a result they are one of the most studied of all enzyme families.

Handheld FTIR for QA/QC applications

A2 Technologies, a supplier of FTIR analyzers for QA/QC applications in the lab, in the field or at the production line, has expanded the sampling capability of its Exoscan handheld FTIR system.

A new Spherical ATR Sampling interface enables the Exoscan to quickly and accurately analyze a wide range of materials typically encountered in the QA/QC lab, or at the production line. These materials include powders and granules as well as large samples such as polymer, composite and plastic sheets.

The new design makes ATR measurements using the Exoscan easy and minimizes the need for pressure devices to achieve high quality reproducible spectra. Two versions of the Spherical ATR are available. Exoscan's diamond ATR is an ideal universal interface for a broad range of solid materials, while the germanium ATR is well suited to the analysis of carbon black filled rubber or samples for which measurement of thin layers on the surface is critical.

The Exoscan adds the spherical ATR capability to its other sampling technologies which include diffuse reflectance for absorbing or scattering samples, specular reflectance for coatings on reflectance surfaces and grazing angle reflectance for the measurement of very thin layers on metal surfaces. These sampling interfaces can be interchanged in seconds, making Exoscan an ideal QA/QC analyzer for industries that must analyze measure a wide assortment of materials either in the lab, in the field or at the production line.

Graham Miller, president of A2 Technology comments: "FTIR's role in QA/QC has been traditionally a lab based effort where sample sets are brought to the instrument. With the development of the Exoscan, FTIR can take a role in quality assurance and quality control of products that are too large to be brought to the lab or otherwise cannot be effectively sampled. The development the spherical ATR enables Exoscan to quickly and reliably provide high quality measurements on a broad array of materials and surfaces."

A2 Technologies LLC

Advanced high definition genomic analysis system

Fluidigm has introduced the new BioMark HD Real-time PCR System, the company's most advanced instrument for genomic analysis ever. The BioMark HD System is designed for researchers who require the sensitivity and throughput needed to study gene expression down to the single-cell level - especially those who have limited amounts of sample or study rare populations of cells.

The BioMark HD System is the newest member of the BioMark family, which has delivered significant scientific insights to over 200 customers around the world. In addition to the sizeable throughput advances, the new BioMark HD System features a number of other important design changes incorporated to improve performance, lower operating costs and provide an expanded applications suite.

"We expect our customers to embrace the improved capabilities of the new BioMark HD platform, as it is designed to provide them with even greater efficiencies," said Gajus Worthington, president and chief executive officer of Fluidigm. "The BioMark HD System is designed to provide exceptional data quality, extraordinary flexibility, and faster time-to-results that collectively allow researchers to analyze their experimental outcomes rapidly and publish their results sooner."

Clinical studies in South Korea and Taiwan in malignant brain tumours

The biopharmaceutical company Antisense Pharma today announced that the South Korean health agency KFDA as well as the Taiwanese health agency TFDA have granted their approvals for the implementation of clinical studies using the anti-cancer drug trabedersen for patients with high-grade brain tumours.

Trabedersen is a gene-silencing substance inhibiting the tumor factor Transforming Growth Factor beta 2 (TGF-β2) at its translational level. The efficacy and tolerability of trabedersen for high-grade glioma has already been demonstrated during a randomized and actively controlled Phase IIb study1. The substance is currently also in clinical development for indications such as advanced pancreas carcinoma, malignant melanoma and colorectal carcinoma. The involvement of Southeast Asian countries for clinical testing of trabedersen is part of Antisense Pharma’s strategic development programme for the global marketing of this compound. Including South Korea and Taiwan, a total of 13 countries are now participating in the international pivotal study.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

J Rick Turner new editor-in-chief of Drug Information Journal

DIA today announced the appointment of J Rick Turner, PhD, Senior Scientific Director, Cardiac Safety Services, Quintiles, as new editor-in-chief of the Drug Information Journal, the official peer-reviewed journal of DIA.

Since its inception, the Drug Information Journal has been largely focused on drugs. Dr Turner intends to broaden its scope by publishing articles related to some new and hot topics including medical devices and medical device/drug combination products, companion diagnostics, and integrated pharmaceutical medicine, all with a focus on regulatory science.

“Our ultimate goal is to take care of patients, and while pharmaceutical medicine remains extremely important, the convergence of several lines of medical products plays a very large and potentially increasing role in improving human health in general,” says Dr Turner. “I want to get much more input from all stakeholders so that the Drug Information Journal sits at the top of everyone’s must-read list.”

Dr Turner is an experimental research scientist, clinical trialist, and author. Prior to joining Quintiles, He was a clinical submissions scientist at GlaxoSmithKline and president and chief scientific officer at Turner Medical Communications LLC. He has been published in numerous pharmaceutical professional journals and peer-reviewed publications, including the American Heart Journal and Journal for Clinical Studies, and recently authored the second edition of New Drug Development: An Introduction to Clinical Trials (Springer Science, 2010). In 2003, he was a joint recipient of the American Journal of Nursing’s “Book of the Year” Award for Health & Behavior in Childhood & Adolescence (Springer, 2002).

Among other honours, Dr Turner was awarded the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contributions to Psychophysiology from The Society for Psychophysiological Research and the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contributions to Psychosomatic Medicine from The American Psychosomatic Society. He currently holds appointments as Senior Fellow, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and Affiliate Clinical Associate Professor, University of Florida College of Pharmacy.

Automated solution for high-throughput sample preparation

Agilent Technologies Inc has announced the launch of the AssayMAP Bravo platform and protein purification cartridges, a fully automated solution for high-throughput protein sample preparation and purification.

Combining the best-in-class liquid handling of the Agilent Bravo with the AssayMAP Protein A micro-chromatography technology, the Bravo for Protein Purification enables quick, precise and highly parallel microscale purification of target antibodies. With this combined solution, customers can generate high-purity samples that can be used for direct titer assays or downstream characterization and processing applications.

“This launch offers a complete solution for a variety of sample prep applications and saves valuable time developing and validating assays, allowing customers to focus on generating business-critical data to advance their biologics pipeline,” said Nitin Sood, general manager of Agilent’s Automation Solutions Division. “The AssayMAP Bravo and cartridges for protein purification are ideal for those in biologics discovery and development who need streamlined, precise purification of their protein of interest.”

The Bravo for Protein Purification uses disposable, 5-microliter packed-bed AssayMAP cartridges in a 96-channel microplate format, which reduces the amount of starting sample used and speeds time to results. Target protein can be purified from a variety of common sources, including:

* Cell culture supernatants.
* Cell culture lysates.
* Hybridoma cultures.
* Protein expression systems.

The AssayMAP Bravo for Protein Purification is a fully supported system, with hardware and software as well as the cartridges used in the equipment available directly from Agilent.

The Bravo for Protein Purification will be available to order in February.

Agilent Technologies Inc

Fluorescent nucleic acid probes

The detection of nucleic acids is important for many life science research tasks, such as sequencing, cDNA synthesis and cloning, RNA transcription and transfection. Accurate detection of DNA/RNA is key to the success of these techniques. DNA/RNA concentration is often measured by UV absorbance at 260 nm. This method, however, is not as accurate and sensitive as DNA quantitation by fluorescent dyes.

The most popular cell-impermeant nucleic stains are 7-AAD, Ethidium Bromide, Propidium Iodide and Stains-all:

7-AAD (7-aminoactinomycin D) is a fluorescent intercalator that binds selectively to GC regions of DNA. 7-AAD/DNA complexes can be excited by argon-ion laser and emit fluorescence with a maxima of 647 nm, making this nucleic acid stain useful for multicolor fluorescence microscopy, confocal laser-scanning microscopy and flow cytometry.

Multi-position heating block

The DrySyn MULTI-M from Asynt converts any standard hotplate stirrer into a reaction block for three flasks or up to 12 vials. Providing heating and stirring performance but without the high risk of fire and toxic fumes from an oil bath, DrySyn heating blocks help laboratories create a safer, cleaner and more efficient working environment.

Made of chemically resistant, 100% recyclable anodized aluminium, DrySyn heating blocks offer excellent heating performance to over 300ºC and can heat a reaction flask 25 per cent faster than an oil bath. With a choice of inserts for the standard base, the DrySyn MULTI-M gives the flexibility to heat a single round-bottomed 500 ml flask in the central position, or any combination of three flasks from 5 ml to 250 ml, or as many as 12 reactions in vials or tubes. The ingenious three-way MULTI clamps make it quick and easy to secure flasks in place, while DrySyn’s shallow well shape increases reaction visibility and minimises the possibility of glass fractures.

Designed with a small footprint and full compatibility with magnetic stirring, DrySyn MULTI-M blocks conveniently replace dangerous oil baths in the chemistry laboratory and also offer an excellent alternative to heating mantles. Mantles not only pose a potential fire hazard with flammable solvents but, because a different unit must be used for each flask size, they are considerably more expensive.

DrySyn’s combination of safety and economy has made the concept particularly popular in teaching laboratories, where a single compact reaction station can provide heating facilities for several students. The DrySyn MULTI concept also offers significant versatility for the pharmaceutical or process chemist.

Asynt Ltd

Clinical development of immunocytokine hu14.18-IL2

Apeiron Biologics AG, Vienna (Austria) announced today the signing of an agreement that will grant Apeiron the rights to further develop and commercialize the investigational immunocytokine hu14.18-IL2. This recombinant protein (immunocytokine) consists of the hu14.18 monoclonal antibody against the GD2 antigen, expressed on neuroblastoma, melanoma and other malignant tissues, fused to the cytokine interleukin-2 (IL2).

hu14.18-IL2 has recently shown preliminary activity in a subset of children suffering from neuroblastoma in a Phase II clinical study*. Apeiron will continue the clinical development to further investigate the protein's therapeutic potential for pediatric neuroblastoma, an indication with high unmet medical need, and will evaluate strategies to advance it in other cancer indications, eg melanoma.

ForceRobot system for single molecule and biopharmaceutical applications

JPK Instruments, a manufacturer of nanoanalytic instrumentation for research in life sciences and soft matter, is pleased to report on the first work from the University of Nottingham who have chosen the ForceRobot 300 system for their School of Pharmacy.

The Laboratory of Biophysics and Surface Analysis (LBSA), a multidisciplinary research division within the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham, is one of the world's leading scanning probe microscopy groups, having published several hundred ground-breaking papers over the last twenty years.

Automated microplate handling

Agilent Technologies Inc has announced the addition of the BenchBot Robot to its line of automated microplate handling equipment. As part of Agilent’s Automation Solutions instrumentation portfolio, the BenchBot complements the Direct Drive Robot. portfolio, the BenchBot complements the Direct Drive Robot and BenchCel Microplate Handler .

The BenchBot is a mid-sized microplate handler designed to meet the automation workflow needs of diverse laboratories. Ideal for a wide variety of applications, the BenchBot features:

* A compact, scalable design to support a variety of laboratory devices and readers.
* Simple, one-touch teaching for easy integration and fast setup.
* VWorks software scheduling to maximize throughput of a cohesive automation system.
* Easy integration with more than 100 laboratory devices for maximum flexibility.
* Compatibility with labware – including PCR microplates, deep-well microplates, filter microplates, tube racks, and most tip boxes – that complies with the standards set by the American National Standards Institute/Society for Biomolecular Screening.

“The BenchBot Robot incorporates the robust functionality of our larger automated microplate handlers into a compact design for use in small lab spaces, enabling automation of a variety of changing, science-driven workflows,” said Nitin Sood, general manager for Agilent’s Automation Solutions Division. “The BenchBot has the capability to easily integrate with an expansive list of laboratory equipment, increasing its utility for applications from next-generation sequencing and microarray sample preparation to high-throughput LC/MS sample management and numerous cell-based assays.”

The BenchBot Robot will be available to order in February.

Agilent Technologies

Monday, 31 January 2011

New treatment strategy for bowel cancer patients

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) have found an important new drug target for advanced bowel cancer that could also be used to identify tumours that will respond to a drug already used in other cancers.

Dr Janine Erler and colleagues earlier discovered the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX) plays a key role in the spread of breast cancer, and suspected it may also be involved in metastasis of other cancers.

In the latest study, published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr Erler’s team confirmed LOX was also important in bowel cancer growth and spread. They found cell growth increased in tumour cells with high levels of LOX, while low levels of LOX led to limited cell growth.

Oxford BioMedica acquires manufacturing from RecipharmCobra Biologics

Oxford BioMedica plc, a gene therapy company, today announced that it has agreed to acquire a manufacturing facility based in Oxford, UK from RecipharmCobra Biologics, the specialist biologics division of Recipharm AB, for a purchase price of £1.9 million.

The acquisition and operation of this manufacturing facility is a planned use of proceeds following the Company’s recent £20 million fundraising which closed on 10 January 2011. The acquisition of the facility is expected to complete by the end of February 2011.

Fundamentals of freeze drying

SP Scientific, a leader in freeze drying technology, has announced a new four-part series of LyoLearn webinars during February 2011 designed to help participants better understand the basic theory and fundamentals of freeze drying.

Chaired by Dr Jeff Schwegmann, director of AB Biotechnologies - the scope of the first webinar, to be held on February 4th, will be to provide an introduction to freeze drying theory and the components of freeze drying, temperature and vacuum monitoring systems.

The second webinar, to be held on February 11th, will focus on the physical properties of different types of materials (eutectic melting, glass transition, collapse temperatures, etc.) and discuss applications of thermal characterisation techniques for solutions and solids.

To be held on February 18th, the third webinar will look at the latest freezing, annealing, primary and secondary drying techniques and the theory behind them. Reflecting the importance of freeze drying in the production environment the fourth webinar, to be held on February 25th, will discuss strategies for optimizing freeze drying scale-up, cycle transfer and maximising your throughput capability.

SP Scientific's programme of free educational webinars delivered by industry experts are devoted to freeze-drying topics, and follow a 30-minute format for the presentations with a Q&A session immediately afterwards.

Register here for the four session webinar 'Basic Theory of Freeze Drying'.

Manual multichannel pipette

The new Pipet-Lite XLS from RAININ is claimed to be the most technically and ergonomically advanced manual multichannel pipette around.

For quick, hassle free transfer of samples between different tube and plate formats choose the Pipet-Lite XLS Adjustable Spacer. Available in a 6 or 8 channel pipette with adjustable nozzles this pipette is ideal for Genomic, Proteomic, Tissue Culture and Cell Culture applications.. By simply turning the spacing knob you can aspirate samples from micro-centrifuge tubes and dispense them straight into a 24, 48 or 96-well plate.

MorphoSys reaches clinical milestone with Pfizer

MorphoSys AG announced today that it has received a milestone payment from Pfizer in connection with the IND filing in December 2010 and subsequent initiation of a phase 1 clinical trial of a HuCAL-derived, fully human antibody in the therapeutic area of oncology.

"We are delighted to add Pfizer to the list of partner companies running clinical trials with HuCAL-based antibodies," commented Dr. Marlies Sproll, Chief Scientific Officer of MorphoSys AG. "In total, seven different partners from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry are currently running clinical trials with our antibodies."

MorphoSys and Pfizer originally entered a collaboration for the development of therapeutic antibodies in December 2003. In December 2006, MorphoSys announced an early expansion of its collaboration with Pfizer. Under the extended agreement, Pfizer secured an option to begin several therapeutic antibody projects with MorphoSys.

MorphoSys's clinical pipeline currently comprises ten partnered programs in Phase 1 and five in Phase 2 development as well as the Company's proprietary programs MOR103, which is in a Phase 1b/2a trial for rheumatoid arthritis, and MOR208, which is in a Phase 1 trial for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.


Enabling equipment qualification and GMP compliance

GE Healthcare is launching Installation Qualification (IQ) and Operational Qualification (OQ) protocols for ImageQuant LAS 4000 mini, 4000 and 4010 biomolecular imagers. Required for controlled environments, the protocols enable ImageQuant systems to comply with regulatory and Good Manufacturing Processing standards (GMP). The protocols have been developed in accordance with recent guidelines, including GAMP5 and ASTME2500, and highlight data integrity and product quality.

The IQ protocol is carried out during installation of the ImageQuant system and demonstrates that the device has been set up correctly and adheres to regulatory guidelines. The subsequent OQ protocol is performed to ensure that the instrument functions as intended.

Both qualification protocols must be performed by a certified GE Healthcare Service Specialist. The resulting validation documents are uniform, simplifying document handling for all stakeholders. As required by current regulatory guidelines, the protocols have been reviewed by Subject Matter Experts to ensure compliance.

The ImageQuant IQ/OQ document package includes:

* Protocols describing the objective and acceptance criteria of the different tests included in the IQ/OQ.
* Record sheets for each test module with descriptions of the qualification criteria.
* Reports summarizing the IQ/OQ results.

GE Healthcare

Patient trials of new leukaemia cancer vaccine

A new cancer treatment which strengthens a patient's immune system and enables them to fight the disease more effectively is being trialled on patients for the first time in the UK.

The treatment will use a new DNA vaccine, developed by scientists from the University of Southampton, which will treat a selected group of volunteers who have either chronic or acute myeloid leukaemia - two forms of bone marrow and blood cancer.

Scientists believe they can control the disease by vaccinating patients against a cancer-associated gene (Wilm's Tumour gene 1), found ‘expressed’ in almost all chronic and acute leukaemias.

A team of researchers and health practitioners, led by Professor Christian Ottensmeier of the University of Southampton Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and Dr Katy Rezvani of Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, hope to recruit up to 180 patients to the trial which will take place at hospitals in Southampton, London and Exeter over the next two years.

First HuCAL-based antibody targeting cancer stem cells reaches clinical development

MorphoSys AG announced today that it has received a milestone payment from OncoMed Pharmaceuticals in connection with the initiation of a Phase 1 clinical trial with a HuCAL-derived, fully human antibody. The antibody OMP-59R5, which is part of OncoMed's Notch pathway collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, is now being evaluated in a Phase 1 trial in the US in patients with advanced solid tumours. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that OMP-59R5 decreases the frequency of tumour-initiating cells across a variety of tumor types.

"This promising new program is MorphoSys's first HuCAL drug candidate targeting a validated cancer stem cell pathway," commented Dr. Marlies Sproll, Chief Scientific Officer of MorphoSys AG. "Cancer stem cells potentially offer one of the most attractive targets for attacking a range of tumor types, making this programmme an exciting addition to the overall pipeline of HuCAL-based drugs. This is one of eight partnered programs that moved into the clinic in 2010."

Rapid delivery of DNA and RNA oligos

Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT), a leader in oligonucleotide synthesis, offers a comprehensive oligo manufacturing service with rapid turnaround times. All oligos are provided deprotected, desalted, quantified using UV spectrophotometry and checked for quality using mass spectrometry as standard, to provide the highest quality and yield accuracy currently available. Oligos are available in a range of amounts, from 25 nmol up to 10 µmol with the additional option of large-scale production up to 10 g.

As well as providing standard length oligos, IDT’s chemistry expertise allows the production of high quality, long Ultramer DNA oligos, up to 200bp in length, making them ideal for gene construction, cloning, and DNA-directed RNA interference (ddRNAi).

Thermo Fisher Scientific to launch informatics offerings

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc will showcase its new informatics offerings at PITTCON 2011, being held from March 13-18 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The advances in the new laboratory information management system (LIMS) solutions facilitate compliance with industry guidelines such as ISO 17025, and other procedural requirements such as GMP while delivering time and cost-savings to scientists and lab managers supporting process industries.

In addition, the company will showcase a new feature rich field solution that has been specifically developed for laboratory professionals working in water and environmental testing laboratories. The company will also exhibit its full range of informatics solutions, including laboratory information management systems (LIMS), chromatography data systems (CDS), electronic laboratory notebooks (ELN), document management systems (DMS) and Spectroscopy software.