SCID Mice Go Commercial
The Philadelphia-based Fox Chase Cancer Center has entered the mutant mouse business with a series of licensing agreements that will allow commercial distribution of a key strain used to study diseases of the immune system. The SCID (severe combined immune deficiency) strain, which arose naturally from a chance mating of two normal mice in the Fox Chase labs in 1981, was the first to accept human immune system cells, making national headlines for two California research teams (The Scientist, Oct. 31, 1988, page 1). Because the mutation is naturally occurring, Fox Chase is prohibited from patenting the mouse, but careful conservation of the strain has allowed it to be trademarked. Samuel Phalen, marketing director of Taconic Farms Inc. of Germantown, N.Y., which will U.S. and Canada, says that he hopes to begin shipments by April of next year. As part of its agreement with the licensing firms—a Danish firm and a French firm hold European and Israeli rights—Fox Chase will maintain quality control by twice-a-year genetic inspection of the mice and replacement from the foundation stocks every five years.
Computer Programs Bid For Big Bucks
Scientists have a chance to share In a $10,000 prize by designing programs that will reap trading profits in a market simulation to be played this spring. The Double Auction Tournament will be run by the Santa Fe Institute, a scientific center focusing on the multidisciplinary study of complex systems. The auction’s organizers hope the toumament will provide insight into markets like the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.
What makes the Santa Fe auction different from other market simulations is that the players will be using computer programs to maximize their profits, thus allowing programmers to analyze their strategic decisions. The players will trade in tokens that have been assigned various redemptive values; they’ll know the value only of their own tokens, and not those of their opponents. Simulating the operation of real markets, buyers will bid against each other at the same time that sellers will be making offers to sell.
John Miller, a tournament organizer who is assistant professor of economics and decision science at Carnegie-Mellon University and a postdoctoral fellow at the institute, says the physical and natural sciences are instrumental in the market simulation. “A lot of ideas from physics may be appropriate to economics,” he says, such as theories on the transience and the dynamics of the auction system. Similarly, he says, biology plays a role: “The auction can be seen as an ecosystem of strategies.” Up to 100 entries will be accepted; the deadline is March 1.