The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: Genome Canda

Friday Science Review: January 15, 2010

A little sunflower power to brighten up a quiet week…

Understanding Cancer Therapy Resistance: A molecular contribution to resistance to cancer treatments is from the cellular protein Clusterin (CLU).   This cell survival protein is targeted by the antisense based OGX-011, one of OncoGenex Pharmaceutical’s leading compounds currently in phase 2 trials for prostate, lung and breast cancers.  In this recent research project, the mechanism of clusterin mediated treatment resistance was investigated by Dr. Martin Gleave’s team at the University of British Columbia.  They found that CLU enhances the degradation of two proteins, COMMD and I-kappaB, which in turn leads to an increase in the transcriptional activity of NF-kappaB to support cell survival.  These findings surely provide additional potential drug targets for Dr. Gleave, who is the founder of OncoGenex and currently serves as the Chief Scientific Officer.  The study is reported in Molecular Cancer Research.

Sunflower Genome: This is an award announcement to fund the $10.5M (USD) “Genomics of Sunflower” Project.  The contributions are from a ‘cross-border’ consortium including Genome Canada, Genome BC, the US Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and France’s INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research).  An international team including University of British Columbia researchers and led by Dr. Loren Rieseberg will generate the reference genome that is approximately 3.5 billion bases long for the sunflower family, which includes 24,000 different species.  This agri-biotech project will support the future of the sunflower industry (its seed industry alone is worth $14B) by trying to identify genes that are responsible for agriculturally important traits such as seed-oil content, flowering, seed-dormancy, and wood producing-capacity as well as adapt to today’s changing environment and consumer tastes.

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Bailout Updates: Results May Vary

We’re beginning to see a round of adjustments in government budgets. 

On the one hand, some programs are facing further cuts as aspirational commitments meet fiscal reality.  For example, state legislators in Washington are proposing cuts of betwen 50 and 90 percent to spending on the state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund over the next two years.  Similarly, the government in Ireland, which had funded a remarkable increase in innovative activity, announced an emergency budget that will reduce academic funding and salaries.

On the other hand, some early cutbacks are looking shortsighted and are being reconsidered or worked around.  For example, genomics funding that was originally cut (or not increased) in the Canadian budget has triggered an inflow of funds from other sources: $26 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and provincial funds in Ontario and Quebec.  In the UK, where the focus has been on education funding, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is providing most of the £13.5M to launch and operate The Genome Analysis Centre (TCAG) that will use genomics to support food security and animal health research.

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Canada Budget Reax Update

Genome Canada is causing quite a stir this morning, picked up by ScienceInsider this afternoon.  That, plus more budget reaction from a Research Canada press release and a thumbs-down from the CVCA below…

The CBC story on Genome Canada funding has some reaction from Tony Clement:

Minister of Industry Tony Clement, speaking to CBC Newsworld on Thursday morning, disputed that funding had been cut, saying Genome Canada was in the third year of a five-year budget rollout.

“It would not be surprising that they would not get an extra amount in this budget because that was taken care of in the last two budgets,” Clement told CBC News.

So what is the status?

Godbout said that while money from last year’s budget was allocated over the next four years to fund ongoing projects, there no indication that they would receive nothing this year for new initiatives.

He pointed to a project to sequence the genomes of 50 different types of cancer, led by Ontario Institute of Cancer Research scientific director Tom Hudson, as one project that would be $25 million short of funding without further federal support.

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