A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH; both Bethesda, Maryland), and the National Science Foundation (NSF; Arlington, Virginia) reported a collaboration that will establish integrative training environments for U.S. science and engineering doctoral students to focus on interdisciplinary nanoscience and technology research with applications to cancer.

Through this partnership, $12.8 million in grants are being awarded to four institutions over the next five years.

Nanotechnology – the development and engineering of devices so small that they are measured on a molecular scale – has significant potential in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, according to NCI.

It said the application of nanotechnology to cancer requires cross-disciplinary training in biological and physical sciences, and at present there are not enough individuals with such training.

The NCI's Cancer Nanotechnology Plan, and the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer identified the need for such a cross-trained scientific work force as essential to 21st century research and development.

The awards are granted through the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program (IGERT). The IGERT program is intended to facilitate greater diversity in student participation and preparation and contribute to the development of a diverse, globally engaged science and engineering wor force.

All of the four selected projects, each of which will support about 30 students, are linked to regional cancer centers and the biomedical research community: Integrative Nanoscience and Microsystems, University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, New Mexico); NanoPharmaceutical Engineering and Science, Rutgers University (New Brunswick, New Jersey); Nanomedical Science and Technology, Northeastern University (Boston); Building Leadership for the Nanotechnology Work force of Tomor-row, University of Washington (Seattle).

Along with other NCI training grants being awarded this month, the NCI-NSF awards address the full spectrum of training and education needs at graduate school, postdoctoral, and mid-career levels highlighted as priorities in the NCI's Cancer Nanotechnology Plan. The award program will be jointly overseen by NSF and by NCI through the Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer.

The $144.3 million five-year NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer is an integrated initiative encompassing researchers, clinicians, and public and private organizations that have joined forces to translate cancer-related nanotechnology research into clinical practice. The alliance was launched in September 2004.

In other grants/contracts news:

Invitrogen (Carlsbad, California), a provider of life science technologies for disease research and drug discovery, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle) reported they have entered into a multi-year collaborative research program for the development of diagnostics and screening tools for cancer.

Invitrogen will use its expertise with the human proteome and proteomics-based approaches in combination with investigations by the lab of Sam Hanash, MD, PhD, at the Hutchinson Center.

Invitrogen will utilize a variety of its proteomics technologies, including its flagship ProtoArray protein microarrays and extensive protein and antibody collections. The company also will be able to license technologies produced as a result of the collaboration.

CeMines (Golden, Colorado) entered a clinical research and product distribution agreement with Colorado Heart & Body Imaging (Denver).

The agreement provides CHBI the opportunity to use CeMines' Cell Correct Lab Detection Test Kits in upcoming studies that relate patient serum biomarkers and imaging in diverse and healthy population groups. The CeMines CellCorrect kit detects altered autoimmunity and associated patterns of lung cancer-related autoantibodies present in the bloodstream.

Blue Heron Biotechnology (Bothell, Washington), a provider of gene synthesis services, said it has been award-ed a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI; Bethesda, Maryland) supporting research on a simple, high-throughput method for studying protein function.

This new method is designed to enable the production of large pools of beads with a unique DNA molecule on each bead and the protein or proteins encoded by that DNA molecule attached to the same bead. Protein characterization and optimization are crucial steps for product development of many medical and industrial products. This technology holds the promise to reduce the cost and time for biological product development.

"This project leverages the same technical competencies in molecular biology, chemistry and bioinformatics that we used to build the GeneMaker gene synthesis platform. If we are successful, this new technology could be used to characterize pools of variants so that customers can rapidly improve the activity and/or stability of proteins," said Blue Heron Bio President and CEO John Mulligan, PhD.

Biocare Medical (Concord, California), billing itself as an "emerging leader" in the immunohistochemical market, reported inking a purchase agreement with TriPath Imaging (Burlington, North Carolina). TriPath will purchase from Biocare proprietary reagents and will have exclusive worldwide rights for the fully automated Nemesis slide stainer for the cytology laboratory market.

Biocare said that its reagents and instruments, coupled with TriPath's markers, would be used in the early detection and analysis of cancer.

Biocare manufactures tools for cancer diagnosis laboratories on a worldwide basis.

Medical Home Products (St. Petersburg, Florida), a provider of medical self-test kits and diabetic supplies, said it has signed a distribution agreement with Polymer Technology Systems (PTS; Indianapolis), to distribute the CardioChek System. The CardioChek System provides "rapid, on-the-spot, precise measurements" of both "good" and "bad" cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, glucose and ketones, all from the privacy of your home, the company said.

Instrumentation Laboratory (IL; Lexington, Massachusetts) said it has been awarded a three-year contract for its critical-care portfolio with Premier Purchasing Partners (San Diego), the group purchasing organization of Premier. This is the fourth contract Premier has awarded IL since 1998.

The contract covers IL's portfolio of critical care analyzers, reagents, consumables and service, including IL's flagship product, the GEM Premier 3000 analyzer for blood gas, electrolyte and metabolite testing.

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