|To: Silicon Trader who wrote (8)||1/11/2001 6:02:18 PM|
|From: Mike Roberts||Read Replies (1) | Respond to of 21|
|Proteomics in the news (no LSBC mention):|
Two Firms Report Progress
In Mapping Human Proteins
By Antonio Regalado and Meera Louis
Staff Reporters of The Wall Street Journal
Two companies this week reported progress in proteomics research, saying their efforts to draw protein maps for humans and the bacterium that causes ulcers will provide new starting points for developing drugs.
With copies of the genetic code for humans and dozens of other organisms in hand, biotechnology companies say new markets are emerging for information about the proteins these genes produce. Research teams at Paris-based Hybrigenics SA and at Cytogen Corp. of Princeton, N.J., said this week they had separately reached milestones in experiments designed to chart which proteins are capable of binding, or interacting with one another.
That information is important, because most activities in a cell -- from the signals that tell a cell when to die to its basic operating machinery -- are produced by specific linkups between one or more proteins. "Genomics is important, but it is the proteins that do the work," said John Rodwell, president of AxCell Biosciences, a Cytogen subsidiary that announced Tuesday that it had completed a partial map of human protein interactions. AxCell said it had mapped all the interactions of one of the approximately 70 protein families found in the human body.
Such findings may become an important clue for finding the best intervention points for new drugs. "A cell is like an integrated circuit, except that information is not transported by electrons, but by proteins," said Dr. Rodwell. That information flow can be broken when misshapen proteins fail to connect with their partners, leading to diseases.
Dr. Rodwell said a complete map of human protein interactions would take at least four years to construct, but that AxCell and its marketing partner, InforMax Inc., hoped to begin selling data to to drug makers this spring. Other companies competing in the arena include CuraGen Corp. of New Haven, Conn., as well as Salt Lake City's Myriad Genetics Inc.. Myriad has had the most success parlaying the new protein maps into cash, signing alliances valued at up to $237 million, including pacts with Bayer Corp. to study dementia and obesity.
In 4 p.m. trading Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, Cytogen was up 66 cents, or 20%, at $4.03.
Separately, a French scientific team at Hybrigenics will describe Thursday in the journal Nature how it completed mapping half of the protein interactions of the bacterium commonly associated with gastric ulcers and stomach cancer. Although the genome sequence of this microbe, Helicobacter pylori, has already been published, this is the first time scientists have attempted to map its protein interactions.
"A map of the protein-protein interaction would potentially help us understand the disease pathogenesis and also may help us understand what proteins and antigens to target for vaccine studies," said David Y. Graham, a professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, who wasn't involved in the research.
H. pylori has been particularly difficult to treat because it has developed a resistance to two of three compounds used to inhibit its growth.
Pierre Legrain, vice president for science at Hybrigenics, said the company used a rapid-fire method to test millions of possible protein combinations. The procedure matches protein fragments after they are inserted in a yeast cell, which is used as a kind of "living test tube." The yeast cell grows only if the two fragments interact.
Dr. Legrain said the company was in talks with pharmaceutical companies in the hopes of designing specific drugs against H. pylori.
Over the past year, proteomics has replaced genomics as the reigning buzzword in biology circles. Aside from efforts to map their interactions, companies including Celera Genomics Group of Rockville, Md., and the United Kingdom's Oxford Glycosciences PLC have set out to develop technologies that are able to quickly read out what proteins are present in a sample.
A separate industry thrust involves high-speed methods for determining the three-dimensional shapes of proteins, a factor that largely determines how they function in a cell. Several start-ups, including Structural Genomix Inc. and Syrrx Inc., both of San Diego, are building factory-style laboratories that can uncover protein structures on a large scale. A public effort being funded by the National Institutes of Health, called the Protein Structure Initiative, has similar aims.
Write to Antonio Regalado at email@example.com and Meera Louis at firstname.lastname@example.org