¿ Diversa Corp., of San Diego, introduced its next-generation gene evolution technology during this week¿s BIO 2001 conference. The company said its GeneReassembly technology ¿accelerates the rate at which genes and gene pathways can be modified to generate products with desired properties.¿ It added that GeneReassembly is ¿more effective than traditional gene shuffling techniques¿ for generating diversity, first by creating populations of DNA fragments of varying lengths and then reassembling them via computer-generated DNA ligation to generate new genetic variants.

¿ MediChem Life Sciences, of Chicago, and Neurocrine Biosciences, of San Diego, announced at BIO 2001 they entered into a two-year collaborative agreement in proteomics for new drug development. MediChem will crystallize and determine high-resolution 3-dimensional structures of specific G protein-coupled receptors, known as CRF-1 receptors. MediChem will attempt to crystallize the receptors alone and in complex with ligands provided by Neurocrine, whose proprietary CRF-1 receptor antagonists may be effective in depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. Neurocrine will provide access and milestone fees, research funding and rights to technology, data and improvements to the proteomics platform.

¿ The State Government of Victoria, Australia, used the BIO 2001 conference as a platform from which to launch its ¿Biotechnology Strategic Development Plan,¿ built on a foundation into which the government will pour $320 million over the next four years. Steve Bracks, premier of Victoria, said the goal is to have Victoria rank among the world¿s top five biotechnology centers by 2010. ¿Following the information technology revolution of the past decade,¿ he said, ¿biotechnology is poised to trigger the next global revolution.¿ And, Brachs emphasized during the announcement in San Diego, ¿Victroria plans to be one of the global leaders.¿ The plan includes establishment of Biocomm, a business development agency focused on biotechnology; creation of a Biotechnology Skills Taskforce; providing government funding to establish a biomedical research cluster at Monash University; and setting up a unit within the Department of State and Regional Development to help drive new biotechnology investment in Victoria. As part of its presence during BIO 2001, the Victorian government sponsored a session on ¿Doing Business Globally.¿

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