Adaptive Phage Therapeutics lands 10 2M DOD contract for war on superbugs Washington Business Journal

The federal government has tapped a local company to help defend against superbugs.

Gaithersburg’s Adaptive Phage Therapeutics Inc. has earned a $10.2 million contract with the Department of Defense to help advance PhageBank, APT's collection of viruses that target specific pathogens and kill drug-resistant bacteria. The ultimate goal is to make its therapy for drug-resistant infections available to the U.S. military and the public, APT said Wednesday.

Image: Dr. Carl Merril, third from right, with his son Greg, CEO and co-founder of Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, and other members of the team. ADAPTIVE PHAGE THERAPEUTICS INC.

HelpAround raises 6M from Iqvia Windham Venture Partners Washington Business Journal

Patient concierge startup HelpAround has nabbed $6 million to help people with chronic diseases stick with their treatment.

The Bethesda company, whose mobile platform connects patients with resources for the drugs they’re prescribed, is pushing deeper into the specialty pharmacy arena — where medications are high-cost and complex — after focusing first on the diabetes and renal disease space. The business is now partnering with these drug manufacturers to keep patients from dropping out of their treatment plans, especially those who have been newly diagnosed.

Image: Yishai Knobel is co-founder and CEO of HelpAround. HELPAROUND

Applications open for first round pediatric pitch event Today s Medical Developments

The National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI), in collaboration with MedTech Innovator, is now accepting applications for its showcase pitch event on March 23, 2020 in College Park, Maryland. The competition is focused on pediatric devices in three areas of critical need: Cardiovascular, orthopedic and spine, and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).


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AstraZeneca plans to invest $520 million in its manufacturing site in Dunkirk, France, over the next five years and create roughly 150 jobs, Bloomberg reported. 

Of the total, $230 million will be dedicated to building assembly lines and modernizing the drugmaker's equipment in the Dunkirk facility, which focuses on developing and manufacturing asthma treatments. The new lines could create about 100 highly skilled jobs, according to Bloomberg. 



Johns Hopkins University is blowing up its business-school curriculum.

Starting in the fall of 2020, the university’s traditional two-year master’s of business administration degree will take a hard turn toward health, with a particularly heavy focus on quant skills, from exposure to coding to data analysis, said Alexander Triantis, dean of the Carey Business School.

Image: Brian Gunia, an associate professor at the Carey school, plans to tweak aspects of his class to fit the new health and analytics focus. PHOTO: MATT ROTH FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) awarded its 2019 Newcomb Cleveland Prize to University of Maryland entomologists Raymond St. Leger, Brian Lovett and their seven West African collaborators.

The prestigious award is given to the authors of the most impactful paper published in AAAS's flagship journal Science during the previous year.


Scientist Drugstore Microscope Free photo on Pixabay

Psychedelic drugs—once promising research subjects that were decades ago relegated to illicit experimentation in dorm rooms—have been steadily making their way back into the lab for a revamped 21st-century-style look. Scientists are rediscovering what many see as the substances’ astonishing therapeutic potential for a vast range of issues, from depression to drug addiction and acceptance of mortality.


NSF Small Business Update

More Funding in Phase I –

We posted new Phase I funding opportunities for small businesses (Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer). The Phase I award amount increased from $225,000 to $256,000.  

Project Pitch Update –

The Project Pitch allows startups and small businesses to get quick feedback at the start of their application for Phase I funding. Each company can only submit one Project Pitch at a time and up to two Project Pitches per submission window (see dates below). Once invited, a Pitch expires after a year. For more information, please refer to the updated Frequently Asked Questions.



We are pleased to announce that Dr. Monica Lopez returns this year to the Electronic Imaging International Symposium in Burlingame, CA as both a keynote speaker for the Autonomous Vehicles and Machines 2020 conference and course instructor.

Click here for more information.

How A I medicine could help the world s struggling pharmaceutical industry Fortune

When a Canadian company called Deep Genomics announced in September that it had used artificial intelligence to solve a long-standing mystery about a genetic disorder called Wilson’s disease—and, what’s more, had used another deep-learning platform to identify a potential treatment—there was a flurry of excitement in the drug development world. The apparent milestone, which the company hailed as the “first-ever A.I.- discovered therapeutic candidate,” got echoing headlines from dozens of news outlets, and in January, the five-year-old startup received a $40 million endorsement in the form of a fresh round of venture capital funding.



Metro Boston experienced a year-over-year increase of 8% in life sciences employment through the third quarter, NKF’s Liz Berthelette reported, citing data from JobsEQ by Chmura. That led to the second consecutive year of absorption exceeding one million square feet for lab space, and the market ended 2019 with 5% vacancy, a new low.



A Bedford-based nonprofit, MITRE, is the powerhouse beyond a new initiative called Bridging Innovation, designed specifically to play matchmaker between startups and government agencies.

For the program, MITRE has partnered with essentially all of Massachusetts’ major players: MassRobotics, MassChallenge, Gov. Charlie Baker’s cybersecurity advisory panel, the Massachusetts Military Asset Task Force, Techstars’ Air Force Accelerator, Harvard Innovation Labs, MIT Engine and the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub.


China Virus Overwhelms Wuhan s Health System as City Rushes to Build New Hospital WSJ

China’s viral outbreak is straining the resources of front-line hospital staff in epidemic-stricken Wuhan, who have been forced to turn away patients because of a lack of beds and basic medical supplies.

Image: Chinese authorities are building a new hospital in the city of Wuhan following the outbreak of a virus that has infected more than 800 people and killed 26, aiming to complete it within six days. Photo: CCTV

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Alexandria LaunchLabs™ in Maryland, will provide fully equipped, affordable laboratory/office space with flexible lease terms, supporting infrastructure, access to amenities, and supporting services and programming through the project’s consortium of world-class partners, including Alexandria Venture Investments, BioHealth Innovation, Montgomery County, and the City of Gaithersburg. This unique, startup environment will accelerate the growth of local early-stage life science companies.

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Hilden, Germany, and Germantown, Maryland, January 9, 2020 – QIAGEN N.V. (NYSE: QGEN; Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) today announced the 2,500th placement of QIAsymphony, the leading Sample to Insight workflow automation solution for molecular laboratories worldwide, in Tübingen, Germany.

Cenata GmbH is a medically led genetic diagnostic laboratory offering prenatal testing, and repeat customer of the QIAsymphony, purchasing this milestone QIAsymphony SP as the third unit in their lab, expanding capabilities for circulating DNA purification and other applications.


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Emmes today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a prescription-only medical device used to estimate the weight of infants who are up to 90 days of age.

The Mercy babyTAPE is a tape-measure-like device that permits health care professionals to estimate the body weight of preterm and full-term infants when a scale may not be available or practical to use. Accurately estimating pediatric patient weight is important for drug dosing, resuscitation interventions, and nutritional assessments. This easy-to-produce device could be especially useful in emergency or resource-constrained situations such as remote or rural areas, and in developing countries.


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GAITHERSBURG, Md., Jan. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE:EBS) announced that it has received agreement from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to pursue its proposed development plan for its chikungunya virus virus-like particle (CHIKV VLP) vaccine candidate. The company has proposed conducting a safety and immunogenicity Phase 3 trial using Serum Neutralizing Antibodies (SNA) as an immune correlate of protection to predict clinical benefit of the vaccine candidate.

“Emergent is encouraged by the concurrence we have received from EMA in paving the path for chikungunya vaccine development based on SNA as the surrogate endpoint,” said Abbey Jenkins, senior vice president and vaccines business unit head at Emergent BioSolutions. “As a leading provider of travel health vaccines, Emergent seeks to address the threat posed by this highly debilitating virus by defining a realistic and optimal path to bring to market a much-needed chikungunya vaccine that could potentially serve patients worldwide. We look forward to continuing to work with regulators, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with whom we had our End-of-Phase 2 meeting last December, as we plan to initiate a pivotal Phase 3 trial this year and define the approach for a post-approval confirmatory efficacy trial.”


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GERMANTOWN, Md., Jan. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Precigen, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of innovative gene and cellular therapies to improve the lives of patients, today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation (ODD) to PRGN-3006, a first-in-class investigational therapy using Precigen’s non-viral UltraCAR-T™ therapeutic platform for patients with relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) (clinical trial identifier: NCT03927261). Precigen announced in Q3 2019 that it had completed enrollment for the first cohort of this clinical trial and expects an initial data readout in the second half of 2020.


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IBT Vaccines, a wholly owned subsidiary of Integrated Biotherapeutics Inc., announces it has received $3.9 million to advance the development of the IBT-V02 vaccine for Staphylococcus aureus induced recurrent skin and skin structure infections (SSSI). The funding is part of a $48 mil. investment in 8 companies by Novo Holding’s REPAIR Impact Fund, established in 1999 to support the discovery and early development of therapies targeting drug resistant microorganisms. IBT-V02, which is currently in late pre-clinical development, is a unique and potentially first-to-market multivalent toxoid vaccine with broad coverage. S. aureus produces a remarkably large number of toxins that modulate host immune response. The goal is to harness the growing knowledge about its complex relationship with the host to develop effective prophylaxis and immunotherapy for S. aureus/MRSA disease.



Rockville, Maryland-based Hememics Biotechnologies Inc. has secured a $2.5 million investment from AMVI Partners, an international investment firm with offices in McLean, Virginia.

The startup is working on developing a handheld device equipped with a multiplex panel chip that is able to rapidly test a blood sample to detect bacteria or proteins in less than a minute. The initial device in development, named HEMEMICS, is a point-of-care panel to test for sexually transmitted diseases.


Protenus cofounder Robert Lord.

(Courtesy photo)

When Robert Lord cofounded Protenus with Nick Culbertson in 2014, it required choosing to put medical school on hold. After six years and plenty of growth at the Fells Point-based healthcare analytics company, Lord is returning to Johns Hopkins this month to complete training to become a physician. With that move, he will transition from a day-to-day leadership role to chairman of the board. The transition has been in the works for several months, and his responsibilities were apportioned across the company in that time.

Image: Protenus cofounder Robert Lord. (Courtesy photo)

Ampel Bio Solutions

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- AMPEL BioSolutions' Co-Founder and COO/CSO Dr. Amrie Grammer today at the Biotech Showcase at JP Morgan Healthcare announces the kickoff of a Series A $12.5M raise to commercialize LuGENETM, a gene-based diagnostic.  AMPEL's initial focus is Lupus, but the test can be used for many autoimmune or inflammatory diseases.  AMPEL'S goal is to have its test available for routine use by physicians within the next few years.


Emerging Technology Centers Baltimore lands on top 10 incubators list Baltimore Business Journal

A Baltimore business incubator has been named among the best in the world.

Emerging Technology Centers in Baltimore has been recognized by UBI Global as one of the 10 best public business incubators in the world.

The ranking was created based on a world benchmark study that included a total of 1,580 programs worldwide assessed on 21 key performance indicators including economy enhancement, talent retention, access to funds, post-graduation performance of companies and more to create lists of the top university, public and private incubators.

Image: The ETC is located at the King Cork & Seal building in Highlandtown. CONTROL TEC INC, & METRO DEVELOPMENT LLC

JPM Roche Illumina unveil 15 year cancer diagnostic tie up FierceBiotech

SAN FRANCISCO—Roche has inked a 15-year partnership with Illumina in oncology, which will include collaborating on new companion diagnostic indications for the DNA sequencing giant’s pan-cancer assay.

Announced during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, the nonexclusive pact will also enable Roche to develop and distribute in vitro diagnostic tests for Illumina’s current and future hardware lines—such as the NextSeq 550Dx and the upcoming NovaSeqDx system. The deal’s financial terms were not disclosed. 

Image: Roche and Illumina, as well as Roche's Foundation Medicine division, will work to secure regulatory approvals for Illumina’s TruSight Oncology 500 assay as a pan-cancer companion diagnostic for different targeted therapies. (Illumina)

Idea Innovation Business Free photo on Pixabay

When Daria Mochly-Rosen discovered a compound in her lab that promised to lessen the effects of heart attacks, she set out to convince pharmaceutical companies to develop it.

She couldn’t.

So the professor of chemistry and systems biology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine took a leave of absence and started her own company to further test and potentially commercialize the drug.

It seemed the obvious next step. After all, universities often speak of their success in turning research into products that make life better, with the added bonus of contributing to the economy. There are seemingly countless examples, including Gatorade, invented at the University of Florida; Google, which began at Stanford; web browsers and plasma screens, both created at the University of Illinois; and the drug that became the allergy medicine Allegra, developed at Georgetown University.



The big deal about the just-completed J.P. Morgan (JPM) 38th Healthcare Conference had little to do with big M&A deals, because there weren’t any. This time last year, the $74-billion Bristol-Myers Squibb acquisition of Celgene was announced, as was Eli Lilly’s takeover of Loxo Oncology for $8 billion.

There were no such blockbusters this year, though there was an interesting potentially up-to-$2 billion-plus collaboration: MorphoSys outlicensed ex-U.S. commercialization rights to its anti-CD19 Fc-engineered antibody tafasitamab to Incyte, with the companies agreeing to co-commercialize the B cell malignancy candidate Stateside.

Image: A dearth of deals, Illumina’s double launches, and the usual crowds marked the 38th J.P. Morgan 38th Conference. -

Scientist Drugstore Microscope Free photo on Pixabay

The BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) experienced significant change in 2019 that has set the table for an intriguing 2020.

How 2020 plays out across the region is unknown.

However, if you’ve followed BioBuzz throughout the past year, it is abundantly clear that workforce development strategy, investment, and support will be a critical issue for the next decade in the BHCR. In addition to change and growth across more traditional life science sectors, the ascension of personalized medicine within the region, which includes a host of new and growing regenerative medicine, cell therapy, and gene therapy companies, has transformed the region’s workforce needs.



Engineered Medical Systems, Longeviti Neuro Solutions and The LaunchPort™ announced today that they have entered into an agreement to place new, low temperature, low toxicity hydrogen peroxide sterilization capacity at The LaunchPort™/EMS facility in Port Covington. The systems are being procured by Longeviti to support the Maryland production of their Low-profile Intracranial Devices (L.I.D.) platform. The Longeviti L.I.D. Platform has led to several innovative FDA cleared products thus far, the ClearFit and InvisiShunt, and more are in development. The systems will be operated by Engineered Medical Systems within EMS’s regulated medical manufacturing facility at LaunchPort™. These new systems are expected to have completed initial validations by the end of Q1 2020.



Herndon, VA, Jan. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today released the 2019 CIT GAP Funds Impact Report, detailing both return on investment and socio-economic impact made since the fund’s inception in 2005. A family of funds placing equity investments in Virginia’s high-growth based technology, life science, and cleantech companies at the earliest developmental stages, CIT GAP Funds has deployed $28.8 million in capital across 223 investments. CIT GAP Funds investment leadership has attracted national recognition and continues to demonstrate why CIT has been named Virginia’s Most Active Investor for the last five years by CB Insights.CIT GAP Funds has yielded four times their capital invested across Tech Fund “Roadmap” investments in cybersecurity, data analytics, enterprise software and deep tech sectors and helped position the fund for return of all capital deployed. The report highlights several other figures that capture the overall impact CIT GAP Funds has on the Commonwealth, including:



The National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking public feedback on its plan to revamp the Interagency Edison (iEdison) System, an online portal where companies that receive federal government funding report their inventions.

The project is part of NIST’s increased focus on federal technology transfer as part of the Lab-to-Market Cross-Agency Priority Goal under the President’s Management Agenda. Every year the federal government invests more than $100 billion in research and development, and in return grantees report the inventions that come out of this funding to the government through iEdison.