Sunday, October 30, 2005


Keeping the serious:humorous ratio equal

Time for the humor/lighthearted quotient to be filled for the blog. Today, I suggest you head over to a blog I just discovered (and that is because they added me to their blogroll - Thanks), the Ratlab. This blog is run by a graduate student, who like me, should be doing other things. My favorite entry so far is how to extract DNA in your own home.


LSBC firms up funding

Back in early October LSBC pulled a registration with the SEC for a financing deal with Brittany Capital. Turns out, all is well, there were a few details about the deal that the SEC did not like (LSBC can not place a "put" to Brittany if their stock drops more than 30% in a day for instance). The deal is back on. LSBC also announced the completion of what looks to be a bridge loan with Agility Capital to float the company until the bigger financing from Brittany can be put in place.


Biolex marches on

Biolex announced on Friday that they had entered into an agreement with the Japanese pharmaceutical company Kringle Pharma. In this agreement, Biolex would produce a leading anti-cancer compound, NK4, using their LEX system. NK4 has been shown to prevent metastasis and angiogenesis of cancerous cells in animal models. NK4 was designed as an atagonist to hepatocyte growth factor. According to the article in the Pharmaceutical Business Review:
Biolex has now formed commercial line creation collaborations with six pharmaceutical and biotech companies encompassing a total of 16 proteins targeting multiple indications. This agreement with Kringle represents Biolex's first collaboration with a Japanese company.
In another press release, Biolex, announced the successful completion of a phase 1 study for first Lex System ™ produced therapeutic protein. The protein being produced is a form of interferon alpha. I know from several quarterly conference calls that I have listened to from LSBC that they were interested in developing their own versin of this but I believe that they have since backed maybe backed away from this protein. Added 11/02/05 - Octoplus has announced a Phase 1 study using Biolex's, alpha interferon product. And here is one from a while ago that slipped through my fingers: Biolex Therapeutics Doubles Manufacturing Capacity, Realizing Significant Economic and Time Efficiencies Capabilities in Place for Partners and Biolex Proteins This brings their total cGMP manufacturing space to 13,000 sq. feet. Looks like they are putting the $36 million that they raised in venture funding this summer to good use.


I'm not back in the saddle again, yet . . . maybe

What a week, that's all I can say. The finances for the position I was going to take hasn't come through yet so the big move back to the biotech industry is off, at least for now. We are still shooting for a start date a couple of months from now. All this came about four days before the big move so it was kind of suprising, but not really, it is the biotech industry after all. Luckily, I was able to assimilate back into the lab I had been working in with no problems and it is back to cranking away at maize microarrays. I am really lucky to work in the lab I do. I get alot of traffic from search engine queries wanting to know about what a biochemist does or just about the life of a biochemist. If you are one of them, then let me say, you better have tough skin and a love for roller coaster rides, especially if you are interested in getting involved with a small biotech company. As for me, I guess my skin is pretty tough and I enjoy being thrown a few loops every now and then. I'll keep hanging in there and keep you updated.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Would you like to take a survey?

As the number of visits to my site increases, I am kind of interested in knowing if I am actually drawing repeat customers. You will find a new survey right under my Google Ads on the left-hand column of the page. Please take a second to tell me how many times you have visited, and thanks for stopping by! NOTE: You will have to use your browser's "back arrow" to navigate back to my site after voting.


A little something to remind me about what I'll be missing this winter

As a make plans to move further south and out of Michigan, I know I'm really going to miss all that snow this winter (yeah right!). Anyways, in preparation for the coming winter, I present to you The Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery. This is a nice little collection of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons related to Calvin's artistic side when it comes to snowmen. Enjoy!

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Some required reading

The packing is starting to roll along. No involved posts tonight, just some required reading - I think I'm going to be concentrating a few posts on the lactoferrin protein, several companies seem to be developing their own version of it. I'll start off tonight with this story from - Pharming presents Human Lactoferrin results at international conference. Pharming Group is a Dutch company who is specializing in the production of recombinant proteins in transgenic animals. This company announced in June a collaboration with AgResearch of New Zealand to develop the product mentioned above. This protein is also being developed for several plant expression systems, including Ventria's and Meristem Therapeutics'. I'll have more on them later.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Whats better than gambling in Vegas? The stock market!

Last one for the night. . . Got a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket and want to do a little gambling. Well, you can try your luck with this stock: BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. (BCRX) If you take a look at the chart for the last three months this stock has doubled in value and the volume has skyrocketed. Why all the activity: Avian flu. Seems that Biocryst has a drug on the shelf that could be used against avian flu should it cross into humans. Derek Lowe does a better job of covering the story than I could ever achieve so I encourage you to check out his post. My opinion, if you didn't get into this one ahead of the curve, say two months ago, you are out of the loop and will probably get burned on this stock. This is a stock play based on market hype. Avian flu is a major concern to society but the press has done a great job of over-hyping this story. Unfortunately, unless there is a pandemic starting tomorrow, the press will drop this story when the next Hollywood superstar is murdered. When this happens, Joe stockbroker is going to sellout for the next big thing and you are stuck with a stock worth 50% of what it was. Of course, if you were thinking ahead of the curve and have already doubled your money - sell - I think we have seen the top of this ride.


Why have something for free when you can pay for it!

Alright, one more and I am out of here, maybe two. . . Don't Let Fear Kill Muni Wi-Fi This is a story about how the big internet provider services (i.e. Comcast and SBC) are trying to block local communities from serving up free Wi-Fi access to their entire community. I'm sorry, you can argue that free access like this would make it easier for internet frauds and the evil portions of society to operate but that just isn't going to cut it with me. If these people want to operate anonymously on the internet (as a free Wi-Fi service would allow them to be), they are going to find a way. Heck any 13 year old can already do that. This is just a plain case of greed on the part of several poorly run companies. These guys can not figure out any imaginative ways to make a profit so they rely on greasing the palms of legislatures to impeed what I view as progress in our society. Enough venting, and yes, I can probably be called a hypocrite because more than likely I'll be signing up for broadband through one of these companies when I move, that is until I can get free Wi-fi. Even then, the Wi-Fi speed probably won't be blazing fast and I may shell out a few bucks for a cable modem or DSL if I want to do some heavy downloading, say a few CD or DVD Knoppix disk images (I'm finding that Knoppix is really really cool, but more on that later).


Just as long as you are washing your hands.

A quick post for you to let you know that I am still alive. Things are getting pretty hectic. Got a house to pack and I have to spill as much of my brains onto paper for my colleages that I am leaving behind. Here's one that I am sure will be made into some sort of 20/20 or Primetime live special. I can see it now: Is there a killer lurking in your handsoap? Is washing your hands actually making you sick? Find out right after this commercial! The story goes like this: FDA to Hear Concerns on Anti-Germ Soaps It looks like there are some concerns starting to mount as to whether the excessive use of these anti-microbial soaps will cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. Accordingingly:
A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in which scientists observed the development of bacteria in 224 households for a year, showed no significant increase in resistant bacteria in houses using anti-bacterial instead of regular soap. Nor did it show that anti-bacterial soap led to healthier homes than regular soap.
Of course
It called for further studies, saying the effect could take place over a longer term.
Yes, what good is a study if it doesn't call for more studies. The jury is still out on this one for me. I appears that these soaps don't really help that much. Of course, right now, I'm more worried about getting out of Michigan than about what type of soap I'm using.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Kids these days . . .

The last post for the night and it is a light-hearted one, my samples should be dry. Youth feeds zoo rabbit to 'gator. This is crude, but I wonder if the alligator thought it tasted like chicken?


A few current PMP articles

Just a quick rundown of some recent news in the PMP industry: First up by way of;
Dow AgroSciences, Sangamo BioSciences Announce Research and Commercial License Agreement in Plant Agriculture Basically, Dow is licensing technology involving specially designed transcription factors that recognize specific DNA sequences. Transcription factors, for the layperson, are proteins which regulate the transcription and eventual production (translation) of proteins from targeted genes. These TF's will be used to control expression of recombinant protein products. This is an interesting article because it again mentions Dow using technology for " use in plants and plant cell cultures. If you are an adamant reader now full of "common sense" from this blog, you will know that Dow signed a collaboration deal with Chlorogen in September in which the two companies would work to produce recombinant proteins in plant cell cultures. It really looks to me like Dow is making a major investment in plant cell culture technology. Here's another one concerning Dow Agrisciences that came out today(I use Dow and Dow Agrisciences interchangably): SEMBIOSYS COMPLETES ANIMAL VACCINE FEASIBILITY PROGRAM FOR DOW AGROSCIENCES Once again, Dow looks to be really investing in plant pharma and plant made pharmacueticals. To be honest though, I don't know how much research is going on in side the company. And for those of you who are new around here, and even for those who are regulars, here is another good review article concerning plant-made pharmaceuticals. Well, that will about wrap up the serious portion for tonight, hopefully my samples will be done speedvaccing soon (yes I am still in the lab) and I can go home.


I'm back in the saddle again!

Posts have been a little sparse this past week. Well, there is a reason for that. I received an offer letter for a job in the mail today! I've been working on this job prospect for about two months now and things have finally come together. I'm planning on signing it and sending it back tomorrow. With that I'll officially be back in the industrial work force! Don't want to say who I'll be working for yet, but I am very happy with the prospects of this company, and I'll be doing something I know a little about. I'll be shooting to start November 1. That means I have alot to work on in the next two weeks, research to wrap up, a house to pack and get on the market, finding a new place to live (by the way, I will be moving a somewhat significant distance from Michigan). I'll try to keep you up to date with everything that is going on. I've got a pretty good lead on a Condo to rent close to where I'll be working. Unfortunately, I think my research is not going to be wrapped up as tightly as I would have liked but things happen. Oh well, its going to be a pretty exciting two weeks, stay tuned!!!

Sunday, October 09, 2005


LSBC backs out of Equity deal?

Back in August, LSBC announced a deal with Brittany Capital for $15 million in financing to keep the company afloat. The company then filed a registration with the SEC for the shares to be issued to Brittany capital and other interested parties. However, the company filed this form RW last Friday, October 7, requesting to withdraw the registration. I really haven't done enough research yet to figure out what all this means. Hopefully some news will come from the company soon, regarding this.


I am the cause of airline bankruptcies

A little background: Back in December of last year I took a trip to the University of Arizona Microarray Workshop. I flew on Northwest and was supposed to go from Lansing to Detroit to Tuscon. However, I ended up going from Lansing to Detroit to Minneapolis, was supposed to go to Denver but missed that connection so I went to Pheonix and then to Tucson, 10 hours late and without my luggage. I won't go into all the details but lets just say that from my interactions with Northwest that day I can understand why the company is bankrupt. It is not because of high oil prices, it is because of rampant inefficiences within the system. So fast forward to this last Friday. I had to conduct some business in St. Louis and the plan was for me to fly in, be in meetings from 9:30a.m. - 2:30 p.m. and fly back to good ole' Lansing that night. It would be tight but doable as long as the United Airlines could keep their act in line. Hey, United just secured $3 billion in financing to get them out of bankruptcy so they must be doing something right? Anyway, the first leg of my journey starts at 6:00 in the morning and I make it from Lansing to Chicago no problem. I check and my flight to St. Louis is on time. Since I have a little time, I find a corner to relax and take in the latest TWIT podcast on my MP3 player. About an hour before I'm supposed to depart, I check my flight status again and my flight has been canceled - OH *$%#!. The lady at the gate says that I can't get confirmed on another flight to STL until 11:30, mind you, I have a return flight scheduled for 3:45 and I need more time than that for what I am doing. Luckily, I was able to get standby on an American flight that left about 10 minutes later and I got to STL only 10 minutes late, phew. My meetings went very well (don't want to tell you what I was doing, maybe later)but I was on my game for four and a half hours. Then it was back to the airport in time for my 3:45 flight back to Chicago. We boarded the plane a few minutes late and were ready to go when we were told we had mechanical problems. Apparently, the inbound flight was full and a passenger who had a small child just held them in their lap. However, federal regulations state that all passengers must have a floatation device, i.e. your seat cushion, so the parent was provided with a hand-held, sealed floatation device. During the flight, the kid tore open the device which made it unusable. FAA regulations mandate that every plane have one of these devices in operable order whether it is needed or not so we had to wait at the gate for 20 minutes or so while maintenance rounded one up. Mind you, this was a flight from St. Louis to Chicago, the biggest body of water we flew over was the Mississippi river. Well, we get to Chicago late, fortunately, my flight back to Lansing was late boarding so I didn't have any troubles catching it. All the passengers boarded, the door was shut, the cabin "was prepared for takeoff", and we sat there, and waited, and waited, and waited . . . There was only one ramp crew working that side of the terminal and we couldn't get a push back from the gate. It took AN HOUR to get a crew to push our plane back from the gate. Even the pilots were expressing their anger at this inefficiency to us. The flight attendant, who in my book deserves a promotion or a big raise, basically opened up the pantry and was handing out drinks, snacks, and alcohol for free. All-in-all, I was back in Lansing only an hour later than planned but man, what a day. The last two times I have flown has been nothing but pure chaos. United Airlines may be out of bankuptcy but I see nothing that shows that they will be profitable again. Cutting out those ten cent bag of pretzels is not going to save you any money when passengers are waiting for an hour to be pushed from the gate. In my opinion, the best thing to do to these bankrupt airlines is to sell them off for parts. Sometimes, you just have to start all over again and I think that is the case for the entire airline system.


Water on Mars!

Seriously, NASA has spent how many billions trying to figure this out?

Picture taken outright from

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Stewardship Conference for Plant-Made Biologics:

Just noticed an advertisement for this conference:
Stewardship Conference for Plant-Made Biologics: USDA Protocols for Research and Production November 7-9, 2005
This conference is being hosted by the USDA and Northwest Missouri State Univeristy. I'll let you visit the conference website for more information but it seems like most of the PMP players will be in attendance. For all of you farmers out there, registration for you is $100, and I would say you would get your money's worth. I probably won't be making it but who knows.

Monday, October 03, 2005


CiteULike + Feed Digest = Cool

I have been trying to find a good way to show the research articles that are of interest to me on my blog. Luckily, I think I have found such a way. (which I reviewed here) allows you to create an RSS feed from your list of citations that you have collected. I then took this feed over to Feed Digest to create a javascript code that could be inserted into my blog template and there you have it! In the left hand column of this page right under the Plant Pharma links and above my Link Blog (which was created in a similar fashion) you will find my list of recent articles of interest. By the way, if you just want the feed for this list, it is: I have also used Feed Digest to create the "Common Sense Wire". Over the next few days, I will be work on combining several RSS feeds from science sites of interest into one feed. Right now, it is just a combination of the Nature News and Science News feeds but I have a few others I want to add. The raw feed for the "Common Sense Wire" is: Enjoy! By the way, I will still probably be putting together a more static page with citations of interest separated into categories, etc. . . and I have started working on that review I promised.


Anti-GMO activists destroy French fields

According to this story at (a reprint of this report), activists calling themselves "the volunteer reapers" destroyed three fields containing transgenic organisms this summer in France. According to this website, one field belonged to Monsanto, one to Limagrain, and the last to Meristem Therapeutics. The destruction of the Meristem field has the organization Defeating Cystic Fibrosis upset as these plants contained a potential enzymes meant to relieve secondary effects of the disease. Unfortunately, progress for plant-made pharmaceutical companies in Europe is still being hindered and will probably continue to stymie investments in Europe. Fortunately, this type of resistance has not been seen on this level in the United States. Lets hope that our efforts to educate the American public about the risks and benefits of plant-made pharmaceuticals and GMOs in general continues in a logical and scientific manner.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Your quest is over Monty Python, the holy grail has been found? (part 2)

About a month ago, scientists reported in Science magazine that the FT transcript may be "Florigen". This report has been followed up by some very elegant experiments reported in the September 9, 2005 issue of Science. In a nutshell, researchers linked the FT gene to a heat shock inducible promoter. They were then able to heat shock a leaf of an arabidopsis plant and show that this caused flowering, presumably because the FT transcript had been made in the leaf and transported to the shoot apex. The authors go on to surmise that the FT gene can autoregulate itself and the presence of its transcript causes expression of the FT gene in the shoot apex. Note: Once again, the link contained on this page goes to an abstract which is only viewable by subscribers to Science magazine, I'll work on getting some better links. Added 10/03/05 - Here is the pubmed abstract for this article which is accesible to the public.


How 'bout them Hilltoppers

I may be pretending to be a Spartan, but I still bleed Red and White. The Western Kentucky Univeristy Hilltopper football team is looking pretty good this year, having been ranked as high as #1 in NCAA Div 1-AA. They dropped to number three this week after taking a loss from Auburn. But they bounced back this weekend with a win over Indiana State. OK, so its not Big 10 football or anything but I miss the days of watching the football team in the friendly confines of L.T. Smith stadium. I've been to one MSU football game and it is not the same. Smith stadium has a capacity of about 20,000 and is usually not sold out whereas the Spartan stadium holds over 70,000 and always sells out. It is nice being able practicaly on the field watching the game instead of from a half mile up in the nosebleed section. Anyways, just wanted to stand up and be counted as a Hilltopper. On a side note, I was on campus today during the big UM-MSU game (unfortunately, MSU lost). Football Saturdays on a big ten campus are something to see at least once.

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