Ciphergen teams up on AIDS research using protein chips

By John Dodge
Wednesday, 20 February, 2002


US company Ciphergen Biosystems has signed two joint development agreements that will call on its protein chips to find out why AIDS does not progress in a small percentage of HIV-infected individuals.

The Laboratory of Immunoregulation at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases signed a collaborative R&D agreement with Ciphergen, and will use the company's ProteinChip Biomarker system to identify unique proteins present in a small percentage of HIV-infected individuals who do not develop AIDS, known as "non-progressors".

The second deal, a research and license agreement with Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC), has the same goal. However, Ciphergen will retain therapeutic and diagnostic rights to discoveries made under the collaboration with royalties paid to ADARC.

"We are undertaking this collaborative effort in the hopes of identifying proteins that could become antiviral agents themselves or prove to be unique," said David Ho,ADARC CEO and scientific director.

Both companies partnering with Ciphergen will compare proteins from individuals suffering from AIDS and the non-progressors.

"The reason they showed up on our doorstep is we have a wider scope of coverage. We're able to see lots of things that nobody has been able to see and do it fast," said Ciphergen's vice-president of business development, Robert Maurer.

The ProteinChip System helps discover, characterise and develop assays for protein biomarkers in serious illnesses. A biomarker is a response to disease, drug treatment, toxic exposure, or other environmental factor. Drug developers, researchers and scientists can then compare diseased and normal proteins.

Maurer said the results of this collaboration should be far enough along by the second quarter of 2003 that they could be published.

The Institute of Molecular Bioscience, in Queensland, recently became the first Australian institution to purchase the Ciphergen ProteinChip instrument.

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