Waters, Singapore Institute Team to Advance Development of Glycan Cancer Markers

Waters Corporation has joined forces with the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI), a research institute within Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research, to develop new methods of finding cancer markers and eludicating glycosylation pathways that could pave the way for new therapeutic strategies. As part of the research collaboration, Waters and BTI plan to develop a glycosphingolipid (GSL) head group database containing glucose unit retention times and collision cross-section (CCS) values. The goal is to combine an experimental library for disease-related GSL glycans with a glycan/mass spectrometry (MS) spectral library.

GSLs are critical for cell growth, interaction, and signaling, and alterations to their structure might result in diseases or promote the development of different types of cancer. Analysis of GSL head groups poses a particular analytical challenge, however, because they are isomeric structures not easily differentiated by either liquid chromatography (LC) or MS technologies alone.

In an effort to solve this problem, Waters will contribute to BTI the use of its Synapt G2-S High Definition Mass Spectrometry system. This instrument features ion mobility MS technology that rapidly separates molecular ions not only by their size and mass-to-charge ratio, but also by their shape. This will enable the collaborators to determine the separation of molecules based on a CCS value for each glycan head group. The two organizations believe this will reveal insights into the unique chemical structure of each head group, which in turn could be used as an additional descriptor for the GSL in question, providing a higher degree of specificity than using mass-to-charge ratio alone.

“By taking our partnership to a new level, we will empower BTI to further develop novel analytical methods,” said Jose Castro-Perez, PhD, director of health sciences marketing at Waters. “Together, we want to advance methods to study GSL glycosylation in cancer classification and biomarker discovery.”

Qualcomm, Medtronic to Develop Continuous Glucose Monitoring System

Medtronic and Qualcomm Life, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, have entered a global, multi-year collaboration to develop future-generation continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems for patients with type 2 diabetes. “Professional CGM is an increasingly used diagnostic tool that empowers physicians and patients with meaningful glucose data to tackle glucose control,” said Laura Stoltenberg, vice president and general manager of non-intensive diabetes therapies at Medtronic.

The collaboration will leverage Qualcomm Life’s expertise in developing reference designs for wireless, single-use integrated modules to create a more affordable, easier-to-use CGM system that can be employed by general practitioners worldwide. This system will include a new sensor and smaller design that can provide near-real-time and retrospective glucose data. Qualcomm Life will contribute its 2net Design and 2net Connectivity platforms as well, which are used to design the communications components of connected medical devices such as disposable diagnostics. Medtronic will then use its experience commercializing diabetes management products to bring this system to market.

LifeNome, Imagene Labs Collaborate on DTC Genomics Service in Southeast Asia

The Singapore-based company LifeNome has combined its bioinformatics platform with the genetic testing facilities of New York’s Imagene Labs to provide consumers in Southeast Asia with individualized genomics guidance on diet, fitness, skincare, and overall wellbeing traits. These direct-to-consumer tests claim to provide information on predispositions to nutrition-related traits such as vitamin deficiency, likelihood of weight gain, protein processing, lactose intolerance, and gluten sensitivity; fitness traits such as endurance, suitability for power exercise, and muscle injury risk; and skin care characteristics such as aging, youthfulness, and sunburn potential. As of July, it is available to consumers in Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

IBM, University of Calgary to Investigate Genetic Causes of Disease

IBM and the University of Calgary have established a 5-year partnership to accelerate and expand genomic research into common childhood conditions such as autism, congenital diseases, and the causes of other unknown illnesses. As part of the collaboration, IBM will augment the existing research capacity at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine’s Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute by installing a Power8-based computing and storage infrastructure, along with advanced analytics and cognitive computing software. With access to these new tools, the partnership hopes that scientists will be able to better generate, store, and analyze complex clinical, genetic, and imaging data. The two organizations also aim to reduce from months to days the cycle times required for investigations into how genes and environmental factors affect child health. The initiative will support three projects, including the work of Micheil Innes, MD, a member of the Department of Medical Genetics at the Cumming School of Medicine who is researching speedier and more accurate ways to diagnose genetic disorders such as autism.

BD, Check-Points Enter Agreement on Tests for Carbapenem-Resistant Organisms

BD has inked a development and global distribution agreement with the Dutch company Check-Points for BD Max assays that detect carbapenem-resistant organisms (CRO). As part of the agreement, BD will distribute the Check-Direct CPE Screen for the BD Max assay outside of the U.S., with Check-Points maintaining exclusivity in the Netherlands. The Check-Direct CPE Screen for the BD Max assay is a real-time polymerase chain reaction kit for the detection of CRO from rectal swabs. It identifies and differentiates the presence of the four most common carbapenemase genes: KPC, NDM, VIM, and OXA-48-like (including OXA-181 and OXA-232). In three prospective European studies, the assay demonstrated overall clinical sensitivity and specificity of 98.5% and 96.8%, respectively.

Check-Points and BD also plan to develop and commercialize a next-generation CRO assay for launch outside the U.S. in 2017 and in the U.S. at a later time.