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2008 News


November 2008

Procarta Biosystems Strengthens Management Team

Procarta Biosystems Ltd, the PBL/JIC spin out company focussing on novel approaches to counter antibiotic resistance, has appointed John Hodgson to the Board of Directors. 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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November 2008

Novacta Therapeutics and UK Ministry of Defence Announce Collaboration to Discover Novel Antiviral Therapeutics

Novacta Therapeutics, the anti-infectives company spun out of the John Innes Centre by PBL, today announced that the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) will evaluate its proprietary lantibiotics as a broad spectrum antiviral treatment. 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki

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October 2008

Insect Pest Protection through Jasmonic Acid Seed Treatment - Article in Planet Earth

Technology from Lancaster University available from PBL.

Please click the following links for more information or contact Dr Lars von Borcke

Full Article        Planet Earth Online        Technical Information

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August 2008

Viruses Offer Hope for New Weapon Against C. difficile Infection

Clostridium difficile-associated disease, or CDAD forms a major part of the spectrum of serious hospital-acquired infections, and is much in the news at present. Last year there were approximately 500,000 cases in the US alone, and globally an increasing proportion of infections are by a new virulent type of C.diff that can cause death in up to 30% of patients. Although most strains of C.diff are currently sensitive to antibiotics, there are high relapse rates (up to 25%). Antibiotics have the disadvantage of damaging the normal gut bacteria, which predisposes the patient to the condition in the first place. There is therefore a pressing need for improved therapies to combat this problem. 

Like all organisms, bacteria have viruses that infect them. These viruses, called bacteriophage, produce a protein that can break the bacterial cell wall and burst the bacterium. These “endolysins” and the bacteriophage that make them have already been developed to control the contamination of dairy products by Listeria bacteria. A bacteriophage-derived endolysin has the potential to fulfil many of the desired characteristics of an ideal C. diff therapeutic.

Now a group from the Institute of Food Research, led by Prof Mike Gasson, has isolated a lysogenic (inactive) bacteriophage from C.diff and shown that its endolysin gene can be used to make an active protein that is capable of killing C.diff. The work has been submitted as a patent application by PBL, and Prof Gasson is working with PBL to develop the opportunity further. 

For more information, please contact Dr Martin Stocks.

A lawn of bacteria (in this case Listeria)
showing zones of clearing (bacterial lysis)
where a solution containing 
anndolysin
has been applied.

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July 2008

A Novel Pro-drug for the Treatment of Melanoma

PBL is protecting and promoting a novel pro-drug developed by researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain that exhibits great potential for developing an effective therapeutic for malignant melanoma. In the course of experiments to improve the stability and bioavailability of green tea polyphenols for cancer therapy, the researchers synthesized a trimethoxy derivative of epicatechin-3-gallate, which unexpectedly showed very good anti-proliferative activity against melanoma. 

For more information, please contact Dr Martin Stocks.

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July 2008

New Crop Data Generated by John Innes Centre Transformation Resource

PBL has funded, through its Technology Development Programme (TDP), several projects led by Dr Penny Sparrow at the John Innes Centre to generate crop data in Brassica with four of PBL's yield and stress traits. Most recently, Penny has completed work on the eIF2alpha translation factor which originated from Professor Don Roth's laboratory at the University of Wyoming. The results generated through this work show a significant increase in harvest index in transgenic Brassica containing a version of the eIF2alpha gene. The results demonstrate the potential benefit of increasing yield in crops with this gene. 

Over the last two years Dr Sparrow and her team have provided to PBL an outstanding resource for proving the benefit of a number of genes from PBL's yield and stress portfolio. The projects, which include the recently licensed Flavodoxin gene (see Newsletter 13), have had clear benefit in communicating the strength of PBL's trait portfolio to the AgBiotech industry and have resulted in an increased commercial uptake of these technologies. 

For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.

 

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June 2008

PBL Awarded £2.1m for Development of Innovations

PBL is delighted to announce that it has been successful with a bid to the DIUS's Fourth Round of the Public Sector Research Exploitation Fund. The award of £1.57m will extend PBL's highly successful Technology Development Programme (TDP) and will also strengthen PBL's technology transfer interactions with Babraham Bioscience Technologies Limited (BBT), the commercialisation arm of The Babraham Institute. The bid was backed by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, who will contribute £525k to the programme, bringing the total funding to £2.1m. Three other BBSRC-backed bids were also successful.

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

 

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June 2008

Procarta Biosystems Receives £320,000 Funding

PBL is delighted to announce that Procarta Biosytems has received £320,000 investment from the Rainbow Seed Fund and the Iceni Seedcorn Fund

Procarta Biosystems was established by PBL and John Innes Centre in 2007 to develop a technology designed to defeat antibiotic-resistant superbugs, has received significant seed funding. have provided £320,000 to allow Procarta to further develop its DNA decoy technique, which aims to restore antibiotic efficacy against resistant superbugs, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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May 2008

Major Crop Technology Licensed

Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL) is delighted to announce that it has entered into a major licence agreement with a leading plant biotechnology company in respect of a new technology for enhancing the performance of crops. 

The Flavodoxin technology was developed by Professor Nestor Carrillo and colleagues at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of Rosario (IBR/CONICET), School of Biochemistry, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Argentina. The Flavodoxin protein protects the plant's sensitive photosynthetic machinery from disruption during times of stress and unfavourable growing conditions. 

Please click here to see the see full announcement.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

 

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January 2008

Novacta Biosystems Receives £3.2m Wellcome Trust Award

Novacta Biosystems Limited, the anti-infective therapeutics company established by PBL and the John Innes Centre has won a £3.2M award from the Wellcome Trust, the world's largest medical charity. Novacta will use the award to progress development of a drug which, it is hoped, will help combat hospital-based Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) infections. 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

 

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January 2008

INRA Transfert and PBL Join Forces in Technology Promotion Alliance

We are pleased to announce a technology alliance with INRA Transfert, which is responsible for innovations from France's largest public research organisation in agricultural / plant science.  This alliance (see link below) will make INRA technologies available for free evaluation under the usual TEC Scheme terms to TEC members.  We are already planning two special releases of these INRA technologies in the first quarter of 2008.  We currently anticipate that about 10 new technologies will be released in this way into the TEC Scheme in February and March 2008 with further technologies following later on, as they become available. 

Please click here to see full article.  For more information, please contact Dr Jan Chojecki.

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