A GT Life Sciences Inc. executive sees great potential unfolding
from the work of its research partner in China, which completed for
the first time the sequencing of the Chinese hamster ovary, or CHO,
genome. The collaborators believe this event will provide useful
information that could potentially cut the costs of producing
GT Life Sciences, a privately held San Diego biotechnology
company founded in 2007 that focuses on cellular metabolism, said
earlier this month that scientists at BGI (formerly known as the
Beijing Genomics Institute) conducted the project by using the
local companys proven metabolic modeling and experimental
BGI is probably doing the most extensive sequencing around the
world, said Iman Famili, senior director of GT Life Sciences.
Theyre doing a lot of pioneering work.
Famili said staff members at GT Life Sciences isolated the DNA
samples used for the project, and the sequencing work was done by
She said CHO cell lines are mammalian cells that are used widely
today in biological research and in the production of therapeutic
proteins. At least 70 percent of all therapeutic proteins are
produced in CHO cells, said Famili, adding the cells are easy to
manipulate and not contaminated by viruses.
Therapeutic proteins are essentially drugs being used for a lot
of purposes, mostly cancer, said Famili.
GT Life Sciences estimates the worldwide market for therapeutic
proteins totals approximately $100 billion. Its parent company is
Genomatica Inc., a San Diego-based green chemicals company. The two
firms collectively employ more than 80 researchers and engineers in
biology, molecular biology, enzymology, analytical chemistry,
microbial fermentation and process design, computational modeling,
bioinformatics and software design.
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Genetics Merging With Medical Care: Advances in genomic medicine
are expected to accelerate most notably in five key areas in 2011,
following a year when the field made great strides.
Thats the opinion of Dr. Eric Topol, chief academic officer of
Scripps Health and director of the Scripps Translational Science
Institute in San Diego. Topol says he expects momentum to continue
in 2011 in the areas of prescription medications, cancer, diabetes,
physician education and personal gene tests.
In terms of physician education, only about 10 percent of
Americas doctors believe they have enough knowledge of genetics to
use it in their medical practice, according to a national study
cited by Topol. Yet the vast majority of patients indicate their
doctors are the ones they trust with their genomic data. Addressing
this paradox will be the focus of the College of Genomic Medicine
when it launches in 2011, said Topol. The college, which is being
developed with a $600,000 grant to Scripps, will be a free online
physician training and accreditation program.
And despite being castigated by the medical community and
government regulators for their inability to accurately predict
disease risk, consumer gene tests will continue to offer important
benefits to patients in the future, said Topol.
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Trade Group Addresses Commercialization: Understanding the ins
and outs of global markets and reimbursement is the focus of a Feb.
8 program sponsored by Biocom, the trade association representing
550 life sciences companies in San Diego.
According to Biocoms Market Access and Reimbursement Committee,
all too often manufacturers of drugs, devices or diagnostic tests
fail to adequately understand and address the market access and
reimbursement needs of the marketplace and fail to leverage the
value and optimize the commercial success of their products.
Speakers at the program are Bruce Quinn, a senior health policy
specialist for the law firm of Foley, Hoag LLP, and Michael
Pollock, president of Reynolds Pollock & Associates, a health
outcomes and market access strategy consulting company. The program
runs from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Biocom boardroom, 4510 Executive
Drive, Plaza Seven.
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Topical Treatment Gains Favor With Urologists: A San Diego
biotech firm named Apricus Biosciences said it has won approval for
a topical cream to treat erectile dysfunction from Health Canada,
the Canadian version of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
according to a recent press announcement.
Apricus is touting a poll of urologists predicting that they
would switch nearly 30 percent of their E.D. patients to this
product because many men cannot take Viagra, Cialis, and other
drugs due to heart disease, diabetes or their lack of
Approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected in
Other topical creams in the Apricus pipeline are for diabetes
and immune disorders.
Send biotech news of general interest
to Steve Sinovic via e-mail at email@example.com. He can be reached