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Setting the standard: Lumera joins with medical university to co-develop new protein chip
March 2006
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author
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BOTHELL, Wash. —Lumera Corp., a nanotechnology company that designs proprietary molecular structures and polymer compounds for bioscience and technological applications, has executed a letter of intent with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), under which the university will purchase Lumera's recently released ProteomicProcessor Biosensor instrument. In addition, MUSC and Lumera will co-develop a new protein chip, based on Lumera's NanoCapture HPT technology, which will be aimed at the drug discovery and toxicology market.
 
Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but both aspects of the deal are significant for Lumera, not only for the technical bragging rights involved, but also for the potential financial incentive. The U.S. market for in vitro toxicology is currently estimated at $1.1 billion by market research firm Business Communications Co., and could reach $1.96 billion by 2007.
 
In regard to the ProteomicProcessor Biosensor purchase, this deal with MUSC represents the first commercial sale of the instrument. The company has other such deals in the discussion stages, says Dr. Timothy Londergan, technical marketing manager for Lumera, but this one is the start of the company's push to get the technology—still technically at the end of the beta stage—into the market.
 
"The approach that we've taken strategically is to get machines like this placed at research organizations and universities so that work can be done, data can be collected, our technology validated and papers published so that we can show pharmaceutical and other companies that we've done our homework and the technology is clearly commercially viable," adds Helene Jaillet, director of investor relations for Lumera. "Our target is to get a half-dozen or so of the ProteomicProcessor Biosensors in place before we get heavily into the commercial stage."
 
The second part of the deal, to create a new protein chip, stands to benefit Lumera in two ways. First, it could give the company a new level of stature. "In the emerging field of protein arrays, no standard has been created for attaching proteins to a chip. We believe that with our HPT technology, we are going to be able to define the standard," says Ron Dudek, manager of Lumera's Bioscience Product Group.
 
It could also boost MUSC's reputation as well. "Lumera's approach is entirely unique," maintains Dr. Craig Beeson, associate professor in the South Carolina College of Pharmacy at MUSC.  "With the combined power of Lumera's ProteomicProcessor and NanoCapture HPT technologies, we feel as though we can catapult our research in mitochondrial biology to the forefront of the drug toxicology screening arena."
 
Lumera thinks it can create the standard for protein attachment to chips based on the coil-coil structure the company has been developing for more than 10 years. This allows for the use of co-expression on a protein of interest to define exactly where a tag goes, allowing users to stay away from regions of the protein which are known to be binding regions.
 
Code: E030612

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