Biolog, COP receive $1 million grant for bacterial pathogens
(Hayward, CA) – October 10, 2007 – Biolog, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a two-year Phase II STTR Grant for $1 million from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for the expansion of its Phenotype MicroArray™ (PM) technology to allow detailed phenotypic testing of important fastidious bacterial pathogens. The project will be done in collaboration with Professor Lacy Daniels, Ph.D., from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.
This award follows a previous Phase I grant in which Biolog successfully developed technology to address the important human pathogens Campylobacter and Helicobacter.
PM technology is a powerful assay platform that allows phenotyping to be performed in a simple, rapid, cost-effective and comprehensive manner. Phenotypes are the biological properties of a cell that result from its genetic and epigenetic blueprints. Tools for sequencing and manipulating cellular genetics are well advanced. More and better tools are needed to understand how genetic changes alter cellular phenotypes, and PM technology is designed to fill that need.
The principal goal of this STTR project is to adapt PM technology for important bacterial groups that require special conditions for culture and testing. Biolog will focus on agents of lung, cutaneous and tissue infections (Legionella, Nocardia, Mycobacterium), important colonizers of the colon and vagina (Bacteroides, Clostridium, Lactobacillus, Escherichia) and also will perform additional work on microaerophilic gastrointestinal pathogens (Helicobacter, Campylobacter, Arcobacter, Wolinella).
Biolog has opted to work with Dr. Daniels at the HSC-Rangel College of Pharmacy because of his expertise in metabolism and physiology of Mycobacterium. Dr. Daniels and his collaborators will focus their work on this very important bacterial genus.
The World Health Organization has estimated that about one-third of the world’s population is infected with M. tuberculosis, and it is responsible for about 12 percent of all deaths due to infectious disease. Other Mycobacterium species are also important pathogens, including the M. avium group (AIDS, Johne’s disease, and possibly Crohn’s disease), and M. leprae (leprosy).
At the HSC-COP, Dr. Daniels has access to special facilities to safely perform work on Mycobacterium, either on-site (for the less pathogenic species) or in collaboration with nearby special facilities (for the very pathogenic M. tuberculosis).
“We are grateful to NIH for continuing to fund PM technology” says Barry Bochner, Ph.D., Biolog’s Chairman and CEO. “NIGMS funded the original development of the technology for important model microorganisms – a bacterium (Escherichia coli), and a yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). With the seed funding, Biolog was able to develop two sets of nearly 2,000 phenotypic assays that could be used to analyze the phenotypes of these microorganisms in great detail. Then Biolog received funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to develop new protocols that greatly extended these capabilities to over 1,000 species of bacteria, including most important pathogens of humans, other animals and plants.”
Scientists working on diverse topics of microbial research and development have been utilizing the unique information that PM technology provides. More than 80 scientific publications and presentations listed on Biolog’s website document the effectiveness and productivity of PM technology. These studies fall into 3 broad areas. Some scientists use the technology to test cells with mutations and see how genetic changes alter the biological properties of the cell. Other scientists test and compare large natural collections of bacteria to try to understand why some strains are more pathogenic, more persistent or more widespread. Still others use the technology to create nearly 2,000 culture conditions and see how a bacterium changes in different environments, for example, to gain a better understanding of biofilm formation in different environments.
PM technology is by far the most powerful and versatile cell phenotyping tool available, and it has been successfully commercialized by Biolog. The company currently offers more than 30 different PM test panels that can be used with bacterial, fungal and, most recently, with human cells.
Labs doing small projects can start using PM technology without having to purchase any equipment. For labs using PM technology in high-throughput or with kinetic phenotype applications, Biolog offers its OmniLog® instrument which can simultaneously incubate and read 50 microplates. Biolog also has a commercial laboratory that runs PM assays on a fee for service basis.
Biolog is a privately held company based in Hayward, CA that continues to pioneer in the development of powerful new cell analysis tools for solving critical problems in biological, pharmaceutical, and biotechnological research and development. It is the world leader in cell phenotyping technology. Its respiration-based technology is unique in its broad applicability to cells – this includes bacterial cells and fungal cells as well as animal cells. The PM product line joins the innovative, award winning microbial identification products offered by the company. Biolog products are available worldwide, either directly from the company or from its extensive network of international distributors. Further information can be obtained at Biolog’s website, www.biolog.com
About the Texas A&M Health Science Center
The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.