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Vol. 20, No. 7, April 1, 2000
Genetic Engineering News
Genomic BIOprinting

Ashni Naturaceuticals (Salt Lake City, UT) recently acquired BIOnexus Genomics (Ithaca, NY) for its Genomic BIOprinting™; technology, and then announced a collaboration with Elan Corp. (Dublin, Ireland), to combine BIOprinting with Elan's NanoCrystal drug delivery technology for the development of nutritional products.

Naturaceuticals (or nutraceuticals) are botanical or herbal preparations for use as dietary or nutritional supplements. "Unlike pharmaceuticals, botanical products contain compounds that interact with one another to produce the desired biological effect," says John G. Babish, Ph.D., Executive VP of R&D.

The mechanisms of these interactions is not generally known. "We developed Genomic BIOprinting to correlate genomic, proteomic and signal transduction information in a manner that allows us to develop clinically effective naturaceuticals," Dr. Babish says.

Genomic BIOprinting combines information obtained from gene expression using microarrays with information on post-translational protein modification obtained from proteomic experiments using Western blot or 2-D gels.

In this technology, whole-cell systems are exposed to marker compounds or to botanical formulations, and the resulting cellular responses in gene expression profiles and protein processing are mathematically correlated using statistical discriminate analysis.

In Gene Profiling™;, gene expression responses are measured using predetermined arrays to measure alterations in expression of neurotrophic, stress, protease, structural, DNA damage, drug metabolism, signal transduction, cell cycle, oncogenic and apoptotic genes.

BIOprinting measurements include post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation, acetylation, protein-protein coupling and glycosylation. "Changes in gene expression levels alone are not as effective in predicting changes in cellular response as is the correlation of gene expression with the post-translational modification of proteins expressed by the cell," says Dr. Babish.

"Unlike standard pharmaceutical screening procedures, BIOprinting does not require any prior knowledge of the underlying mechanism of action of a botanical mixture, and there is no need to separate or quantitate individual active components," adds Jill T. Turner, Ashni's VP of Business Development.

"We are able to detect synergistic actions of multiple bioactive components and to make predictions of mechanism of action, drug interactions, toxicity and clinical efficacy."

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