April 16, 2012
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Welcome to your Monday Biotech Deal Review for April 16, 2012. Highlights include deals by Bioniche, Valeant and Bunge and $5 million of equity financings. Read on to learn more. Read more of this post
July 31, 2009
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My first post… a two week round-up.
New direction for treating obesity: A study headed by Dr. Hans-Michael Dosch’s group at The Hostpital for Sick Children in Toronto demonstrated that killer T cells in visceral fat are activated to destroy fat cells and control insulin resistance. With increasing weight gain, however, the killer T cells become overwhelmed as fat cells grow and inflammatory T cells move in. Although these studies were performed in mice, it appears that humans also have a similar system in place. The good news is that treatment with an anti-CD3 drug can give the immune system a boost and help reduce inflammatory T cells. Even better news is that this drug is already in clinical use to protect against organ rejection, which means clinical trials to combat obesity may start as early as next year. The article was published on-line this week in Nature Medicine.
Cool headed Toucan. After decades of speculation over the purpose of the toucan’s over-sized beak – from sexual ornament to feeding purposes – researchers at Brock University in Ontario, in collaboration with scientists in Brazil, published an article in Science showing that the toucan’s beak acts as a highly efficient cooling unit. They have the greatest beak-to-body size ratio and use this large surface area as a heat exchanger (akin to elephants’ ears) to regulate body temperature by modifying blood flow. If only we had a ‘heat wave’ problem this summer…
Setback in Huntington’s Disease research. A decade long study concluding with disappointing results was reported in PNAS this week. Researchers at Laval University and University of South Florida analyzed the brains of HD patients who had undergone neural transplantations about ten years ago as a potential treatment. Although there were mild clinical benefits, the grafts were short-lived and also had undergone disease-like degeneration.
Barcoding Nemo. As part of the International Barcode of Life Project to identify all plants and animals based on signature DNA sequences, spear-headed by Paul Herbert at the University of Guelph, the ornamental fish was added to the list. Accurate identification of ornamental fish is important for establishing regulations, conservation practices and tracking origins. The DNA barcode reference for these fish is based on the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene where 98% of the fish have distinct barcode clusters. The article was published in PLoS One last week.
Funny etiology: two curious New York high schoolers initiated the project and recruited the Guelph lab, sparking headlines last summer when they discovered that some sushi restaurants were mislabeling cheaper fish as more expensive types.
Other DNA barcoding projects include other fish, butterflies, and birds. To find out more, visit the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding or the International Barcode of Life Project (iBOL).
The University of Guelph and the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre signed a “research partnership agreement” that will develop new products and ideas “ranging from new fruit cultivars with health-boosting antioxidants to wider food choices at the supermarket.”
The collaboration will focus on three main areas:
- Applied genomics to help increase yield and resist disease;
- Horticultural productions systems including cultivation techniques, greenhouse technologies and pest management; and
- Consumer insights and product innovation driven by a “new sensory analysis laboratory”
A report at Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, picked up today by FierceBiotech, discusses emerging biotechnology clusters. It’s worth excerpting the whole bit on Canada:
Both Toronto and Vancouver have good, small companies, but they’re struggling for capital. They have the benefit of government support and strong universities, particularly the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph, and the University of British Columbia. Entrepreneurship skills need to be honed, however.
In the heart of Toronto, the MaRS Center incubates a host of companies within about a mile of five teaching hospitals, the University of Toronto, the provincial parliament, and the financial district. The local government takes a close interest in the Center’s success, and several promising research projects are moving toward commercialization.
Vancouver, on Canada’s west coast, consistently ranks as a fast-growing cluster, attracting more than 90 companies, some with late-stage trials. The University of British Columbia has an active tech-transfer department that has spun out several companies.
The report also discusses innovative activity in China and India, among others, that fits with the trend we have observed. Read the whole report here.