30 July 2008

Births and Deaths

Everyone knows that Roche made an offer to buy Genentech. What is not as widely know is that, if the deal goes through, Roche will shut down its Palo Alto site, which employs about 1000 people, according to Palo Alto Online.

How does this affect fragments? Hoffmann-LaRoche in Switzerland published an early example of fragment work on DNA gyrase way back in the year 2000 (using a technique called needle screening), and recently Roche Palo Alto has published some very useful guidance on how to identify - and avoid - screening artifacts in SPR (see glossary, 28 July). Practical Fragments wishes the Palo Alto folk the best of luck, and hope they put their considerable skills to good use wherever they land.

On a happier note, the same week the Roche-Genentech deal was announced, newborn Zenobia Therapeutics announced that it had commenced operations. Founded by Vicki Nienaber, who published what I believe is the first demonstration of crystallography-based fragment lead discovery while at Abbott (also in 2000), the company plans to pursue partnerships as well as its own work on neurological and muscular degenerative diseases. The company's motto is "fighting to cure disease, one fragment at a time," and we look forward to watching them grow.

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