RHT Consulting

Right now there are probably thousands of late-stage cancer patients waiting for drugs that could prolong their lives. Where do they look? Research labs all across the country. In a process called technology transfer, drugs go from the lab to the market, with a few steps in between, and the push is on to speed up the process, without leaving any loose ends.

Recent technology transfers have resulted in treatments for fibromyalgia, a joint and muscle pain illness, called Lyrica; a form of fatal breast cancer, now leaving the disease undetectable, Herceptin, and new chemotherapy agents.

PPI NY

The Public Policy Institute (PPI), the research arm of The Business Council of New York State, today released an in-depth study on the challenges in attracting and retaining private-sector jobs and companies in New York's lucrative bioscience sector.

Based on interviews with 30 industry experts as well as existing research, Cultivating the Next Generation of Discoveries and Development in New York Bioscience explores the opportunities and barriers facing companies in various stages of development and offers three public policy recommendations to foster public-private partnerships and make New York more competitive with other states:

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The U.S. regulatory environment strongly impacts innovation and the development of new drugs and biologics. With this in mind, the Achieving Regulatory Approval and Compliance educational track at the 2012 BIO International Convention will tackle the most pressing regulatory issues facing the industry, specifically the reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA V), implementation of the new biosimilars pathway, and efforts to modernize and expedite drug development. Hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), this year's global event for biotechnology will take place June 18-21, 2012 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, MA.

"Attendees can expect to hear from a distinguished group of speakers from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as major biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies," said BIO CEO and President Jim Greenwood. "Sessions will address the steps involved in research and development of healthcare products and how to successfully bring these products to market, all while maintaining rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and compliance."

DNA data: Narges Bani Asadi founded Bina Technologies, a genome-analysis company that aims to speed up the processing of DNA sequence data.

The genomic data generated from next-generation sequencing machines doesn't amount to much more than alphabet soup if it's not subjected to significant computational processing and statistical analysis. For the data to be useful, the trick is to turn those As, Ts, Gs, and Cs into a manageable description of disease risks and other genetic predispositions. That requires a lot of computational power and time—already a significant bottleneck for some genomic analysis companies.

Several companies are looking to the cloud as a way to help them analyze all the data. The idea is that researchers can send their data to a Web-hosted analysis service that will process raw data into a genetic profile. However, the data files generated by sequencing machines are so massive that the mundane issue of uploading large files to the cloud becomes its own issue. The strategy of a Redwood City, California-based startup called Bina Technologies is to divide and conquer: give customers an in-house data-crunching machine that will turn a mountain of raw sequence into easily shared genetic profiles. Those profiles can then be quickly uploaded to Bina Technologies' cloud-hosted site for data management, sharing, and aggregation.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

From the electric light bulb to the Internet, American innovations have made lives better for people in this country and all over the world.

The kind of work we’ve done to advance technology, communication and so many other aspects of people’s lives is about to get a jump start in health care, thanks to today’s announcement of 26 Health Care Innovation Awards. The awards are part of our We Can’t Wait initiative.

“What America does better than anyone else is spark the creativity and imagination of our people," said President Obama during his 2011 State of the Union address, and that’s exactly what the Health Care Innovation Awards aim to do.  These awards provide our most creative minds—whether they’re health care professionals, technology innovators, community-based organizations, patients’ advocacy groups, or others—with the backing they need to build the strong, effective, affordable health care system of the future.  These are 26 unique projects, tailored to the needs of patients by local doctors, hospitals, and other leaders in their communities.

Qaigen Logo

QIAGEN expands Point of Need portfolio with unique AmniSureassay to detect rupture of fetal membranes (ROM) - checked in up to 30% of U.S. pregnancies

Novel FDA-cleared test is highly synergistic with QIAGEN's clinical sales channels

QIAGEN N.V. QGEN -1.92% (frankfurt prime standard:QIA) today announced the acquisition of AmniSure International LLC, a privately owned Boston company that markets the AmniSure assay for determining whether a pregnant woman is suffering rupture of fetal membranes (ROM), a condition in which fluid leaks from the amniotic sac prematurely.

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GlaxoSmithKline PLC is taking its unsolicited $2.6 billion bid for Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences Inc.    directly to the biotech's shareholders through a tender offer this week, a hostile move that will test GSK's partnership with the smaller firm, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Human Genome Sciences last month rejected GSK's $13-per-share share offer as too low, and said it had hired two banks to advise it on "strategic alternatives," including a possible sale of the company. In a statement Wednesday, Glaxo said it won't participate in Human Genome Sciences' strategic review process, and will instead launch a cash tender offer this week at $13 per share.

Health datapalooza

Plug into the Ecosystem of Health Innovation. Bring creative ideas, and connect with startups, developers, and designers. Learn how to utilize the exploding market of healthcare data innovation, and network with recognized VCs, funders, policy makers, and potential partners.

The Health Datapalooza will feature keynote addresses, a Data & Apps Expo, demonstrations of cutting-edge apps, hands-on data deep dives, and thought-provoking panel discussions. There will also be plenty of time for networking and one-on-one interaction.

CapitalConnection

Capital ConnectionTM, one of the nation’s most respected industry conferences, brings together high-growth and innovative technology companies from some of the most noted technology sectors and couples them with top business resources, including one of the largest concentrations of private financing sources of venture and private equity investors in the country.  The event is presented by the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA) and will be held on May 23-24 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

More than 800 attendees from throughout the United States attend each year to connect with other established companies and aspiring entrepreneurs and peers who share a common focus on building, investing, or serving some of the country’s most promising companies. For 25 years, Capital Connection and now TechBUZZ, have brought together a high-powered cross section of the nation’s technology-based, high-growth ecosystem.  Attendees include senior players from across the industry – investors across the continuum of capital, professional advisors, technology product and service firms, and, at the center of it all, innovative entrepreneurs.  

Bendis

Tech Transfer Speaker's Series FREE monthly program (2nd Wednesday of each month) offered through the Gateway to Innovation: Montgomery County Welcome Center for Federal and Academic Tech Transfer. For more information and additional calendar items, please visit www.techtransferconnection.com.

Engage with others in the tech transfer field by joining the Gateway to Innovation LinkedIn Group.  To register go to http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=3805575

Location: Shady Grove Innovation Center 9700 Great Seneca Highway Rockville, Maryland 20850

Time: May 9, 2012 3:30 - 5:00pm

Presenters: Richard A. Bendis, Interim CEO BioHealth Innovation, Inc. and Mark L. Rohrbaugh, Ph.D., J.D., Director National Institutes of Health, Office of Technology Transfer

Topic: What is a BioHealth Innovation Ecosystem and How is it Supposed to Work?

dougliu

BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI), a regional private-public partnership focusing on commercializing market-relevant biohealth innovations and increasing access to early-stage funding in Central Maryland, announced today the appointment of Douglas Liu, Senior Vice President of Global Operations at Qiagen, to its Board of Directors.

“Doug is an outstanding addition to our board,” said Scott Carmer, BioHealth Innovation, Inc. Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations at MedImmune. “His in-depth experience in strategic planning, operations and R&D in immunodiagnostics, molecular diagnostics, and other healthcare market sectors will prove invaluable as BHI drives biohealth commercialization opportunities in Central Maryland.”

Zyngenia

Zyngenia, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing Zybodies(TM), next-generation multi-specific antibody-based drugs in oncology and immunology, announced today that it has appointed David Parkinson, M.D. as a member of its Board of Directors and head of its Clinical Advisory Board. Dr. Parkinson will also serve as Interim Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

"Since our start in September 2009, we at Zyngenia have validated our technology platform and developed a suite of novel multi-specific biological drug candidates. We have also built an outstanding drug discovery and development team," said Zyngenia President and CEO Peter A. Kiener, D.Phil. "We have been working with David Parkinson as a member of our scientific advisory group for some time now and, as we head toward clinical testing of our Zybodies, are thrilled to be able to get such an accomplished drug developer, company builder and leader in oncology and immunology more directly involved with Zyngenia.

Human Genome

Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences Inc., which last week rejected an unsolicited $2.6 billion acquisition offer by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, reported higher revenue and cut losses on sales of its new lupus drug.

Human Genome Sciences had first-quarter revenue of $47.1 million, compared with $26.6 million a year earlier. Benlysta sales accounted for $32.1 million in revenue. Sales of its anthrax treatment to the U.S. government stockpile contributed $6.1 million.

Maryland

Venture capital dollars flowing to Maryland companies were down almost 30 percent last quarter compared to a year ago, and 16 percent less than the prior quarter, according to Money Tree stats.

Maryland ranked 12th overall in venture capital dollars in Q1 2012, behind Minnesota and Illinois with $71 million and $87 million respectively.

California took is customary place atop all states with a mountainous $3 billion in venture capital. Massachusetts followed with $628 million.

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The state and five universities are spending upwards of $5.8 million to help startups move from a concept to a company.  

Senate Bill 239/House Bill 442 establishes the Maryland Innovation Initiative Fund under the aegis of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, or TEDCO. The bill passed the Maryland House and Senate and awaits the signature of Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is expected to sign it. 

“Maryland has premiere research universities but it ranks low on technology transfer,” Brian Levine, vice president, government relations, Tech Council of Maryland, says of the fund, which is intended to remedy that situation.

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Supernus Pharmaceuticals Inc. is slated to go public this week, more than a year after first filing paperwork to list its stock on the Nasdaq. The Rockville biotech is expected to start trading on Wednesday.

When we wrote about the planned public offering two days before Christmas 2010, we noted that Supernus would be the region’s first biotech IPO since 2007. That’s still true today.

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Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, which began exploring strategic alternatives after failed late-stage clinical trials of its experimental smoking cessation vaccine, plans to merge with Australia's Biota Holdings Limited.

If approved, the newly merged company will be named Biota Pharmaceuticals, and will be headquartered in the U.S., the companies said. Biota Pharmaceuticals will be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Under terms of the deal, Rockville-based Nabi (NASDAQ: NABI) will acquire all outstanding shares in Biota in exchange for newly issued shares of Nabi common stock.

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High-profile research institutions, many of which are members of Association of American Universities, provide many benefits for undergraduates on the fast-track to professional or graduate school programs.  In part, this is because of the level of funding these schools receive from the federal government as well as from industry and nonprofit organizations.

And despite an anemic economy, it appears that big money continues to flow to big name national research universities.

pills

Yesterday at the New York Biotechnology Association’s 21st annual meeting, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins was beamed in by videoconference to a keynote lunch at the Times Square Marriott Marquis. Collins, who was the featured speaker, apologized for his virtual appearance at the event, but he had a good excuse: Just two hours earlier he was at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., making an announcement about an ambitious new program being undertaken by the NIH and drug giants Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Eli Lilly. The NIH said it will collaborate with the companies to make existing compounds available to outside scientists who want to find new uses for them.

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The University of Maryland School of Medicine    and Advanced Particle Therapy LLC of San Diego plan to start construction Tuesday on a new $200 million-plus proton treatment center on Baltimore’s west side.

 

The Maryland Proton Treatment Center will be located inside a new 110,000-square-foot building that is part of the University of Maryland BioPark.

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The head of the leading biotechnology trade group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), was in Boston this week, ahead of the group’s annual meeting, taking place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from June 18 to June 21.

 

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Greenwood said the trade group is advocating for a “Chief Innovation Officer” to be named at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who would examine whether the number of drug rejections is reasonable, or whether it is stunting innovation and causing unwarranted delays.

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This day-long event will explore the opportunities for accelerating technology transfer in those universities that have not traditionally focused on this activity. It will demonstrate how this has been successfully achieved at places like Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer rose from 98th to 26th in the AUTM rankings within 4 years. It has increased disclosures from less than 100 to more than 300 a year and start ups from less than 5 to more than 10 a year. Other institutions like The Ohio State University are doing similar things. These newly emerged academic centers in technology transfer are showing how even late-comers can make the quantum leap in technology transfer.

Maryland

Maryland has the foundation on which it can grow a robust environment of high-tech, innovative start-ups, but needs a stronger angel and venture capital network, more support for entrepreneurs and better programs to nurture young, creative minds, a group of business leaders said Tuesday.

"There's no reason Maryland can't be an entrepreneurial hotbed like Austin or Boston or Silicon Valley," said John M. Wasilisin, executive vice president of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). "We have our challenges, but our assets are off the charts, our education system and our quality of life, our access to federal facilities."

Loyola

Loyola University Maryland and Wasabi Ventures, a California-based venture capital firm with a presence in Baltimore, named the first three companies participating in the business accelerator program the two organizations operate in the Govans community of North Baltimore. They are:

- CodePupil, an educational technology system that teaches software coding;

- PointClickSwitch.com, an energy choice platform that gives residential customers the ability to compare supplier offers, enroll, and save;

- and Vidstructor, a software company enabling interactive video training platforms for businesses.

Harry Weller

Four New Enterprise Associates (NEA) venture capitalists were named to Forbes Midas List of Tech Investors, which aims to single out the top 100 venture capitalists that provide "the best returns for their investors, while helping create the most valuable and impactful technology and life science companies."

Scott Sandell from the firm's Menlo Park office ranked highest at 14th. He was joined by Chevy Chase, Md. based Harry Weller (17), Peter Barris (23), both stalwarts on the Midas list, and "newcomer" James Barrett.

Weller's and Barris' biggest deal was in Groupon while Barret's was in Pharmion.

WhiteHouse

President Barack Obama’s administration rolled out its National Bioeconomy Blueprint last week, on April 26. It details measures by which Washington intends to apply biological innovations toward national challenges that include health, food, energy, and the environment.

At the top of the Blueprint’s five priorities is supporting “R&D investments that will provide the foundation for the future U.S. bioeconomy.” Also on the list: increasing the focus on translational and regulatory sciences, reforming regulations, updating training programs, and identifying and supporting opportunities for public-private partnerships.

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It was exciting to see the creation this week of the New York Digital Health Accelerator in New York. The New York State Department of Health, the New York City Investment Fund and the New York eHealth Collaborative all have partnered to provide funding, mentoring support, development expertise and more to health app startups in the state. 

The group is awarding $300,000 each to 12 startups that are producing apps for care coordination, patient engagement, analytics and messaging. The deadline to apply is June 1. What we'll really be watching for, though, is to see if other states follow suit, and fund health startups in, say, Nebraska or Mississippi. Such localized startup/development support really could be a boon for hospitals trying to develop their own clinical apps. Most incubator programs thus far have been in New York or California, leaving hospitals in the rest of the country out of the running.

BioPARK University of Maryland

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, April 24, 2012 – The University of Maryland BioPark announced today thatBahija Jallal, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Research and Development at MedImmune, has been appointed as the newest member of the UM Health Sciences Research Park Corporation (RPC) Board of Directors.

“The BioPark leadership team is thrilled to welcome Dr. Jallal – a seasoned life science research and development leader ¬– to the Research Park Corporation’s board of directors,” said RPC President James Hughes, who also serves as the Vice President and Chief Enterprise & Economic Development Officer for the University of Maryland. “Her experience within leading biopharmaceutical companies will bring additional industry perspective to our project. It’s a privilege to have Dr. Jallal on our board.”

Dr. Jallal is a member of both MedImmune’s executive team as well as the R&D leadership team of parent company AstraZeneca. She joined MedImmune as Vice President, Translational Sciences, in March 2006 and has since held positions of increasing responsibility. Dr. Jallal now oversees research, development, regulatory and clinical activities conducted by a team of more than 2,500 employees based at MedImmune’s Maryland, California, and Cambridge, UK sites. Dr. Jallal has guided the MedImmune R&D organization through unprecedented growth and expansion of its biologics pipeline from 40 drugs to more than 140. Dr. Jallal is passionate about leading and shaping MedImmune’s rich pipeline of drugs targeting cancer, infections, respiratory and inflammatory diseases, cardio-vascular and gastrointestinal disorders and pain to ultimately develop new medicines for patients.

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In a move that combines an interest in improving health outcomes with a desire to create jobs and boost the state economy, the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) have partnered with the New York City Investment Fund to launch the New York Digital Health Accelerator (NYDHA). The program will subsidize health IT startups and link them with "senior advisors" from New York healthcare organizations to accelerate the development of useful new products.

Within the next few months, the program will choose 12 "early- and growth-stage companies" that are developing products in the areas of care coordination, patient engagement, data analytics and message alerts for healthcare providers. In addition to the mentoring, each selected company will receive up to $300,000 to help create solutions designed to improve quality of care for the state's Medicaid recipients, according to a NYDHA announcement.

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David Brennan's move to retire as AstraZeneca's (NYSE:AZN) CEO in June did not come as a surprise to those who had been urging for a change at the top over the company's drug development shortcomings. In an industry that walks a tightrope between innovation and regulation and the financial considerations that frame them, there are two critical characteristics that can undermine a CEO:being too bold or not bold enough. Brennan was a bit of both.

His leadership was bookended by two acquisitions -- a $15.2 billion deal for MedImmune, a drug developer with a focus on influenza vaccines and the $1.26 billion purchase of biotechnology business Ardea Biosciences.

Whitehouse
“The world is shifting to an innovation economy and nobody does innovation better than America.”
—President Obama, December 6, 2011

Economic activity that is fueled by research and innovation in the biological sciences, the “bioeconomy,” is a large and rapidly growing segment of the world economy that provides substantial public benefit. The bioeconomy has emerged as an Obama Administration priority because of its tremendous potential for growth as well as the many other societal benefits it offers. It can allow Americans to live longer, healthier lives, reduce our dependence on oil, address key environmental challenges, transform manu- facturing processes, and increase the productivity and scope of the agricultural sector while growing new jobs and industries.

Decades of life-sciences research and the development of increasingly powerful tools for obtaining and using biological data have brought us closer to the threshold of a previously unimaginable future: “ready to burn” liquid fuels produced directly from CO2, biodegradable plastics made not from oil but from renewable biomass, tailored food products to meet specialized dietary requirements, personalized medical treatments based on a patient’s own genomic information, and novel biosensors for real-time monitoring of the environment. Increasingly,scientists and engineers are looking to augment biological research with approaches from other scientific disciplines for solutions to our most demanding scientific and societal challenges and seeing exciting options that will profoundly affect our future.

parkinson

Growing diagnostic test developer Nodality Inc. is losing its first CEO, but the venture capital world is gaining another experienced life sciences entrepreneur.

Dr. David Parkinson will join New Enterprise Associates as a venture partner. He initially will be interim chief medical officer of NEA-backed Zyngenia Inc., a young Gaithersburg, Md., company targeting cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Parkinson leaves Nodality -- named “Most Promising Company” at the Personalized Medicine World Conference last year -- as the 40-person South San Francisco company forges ahead with a hybrid strategy of selling its tests into clinics and striking deals with drug developers. In the face of changes in the medical diagnostics industry, it’s a model that just might be used by more companies.

Gate Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now accepting nominations for the second annual Gates Vaccine Innovation Award. The award aims to recognize, celebrate, and spur transformative ideas for achieving health impact through the delivery of vaccines. Nominations will be accepted through August 31, 2012.

“Vaccines work to give children a healthy start in life,” said Steve Landry, interim director of vaccine delivery at the Gates Foundation. “New ways of thinking about age old vaccine delivery problems are essential to ensure that all children have access to the vaccines they need.”

nanotechnology

The results of the human trials are startling. Even at a lower-than-usual dose, multiple lung metastases shrank or even disappeared after one patient received only two-hour-long intravenous infusions of an experimental cancer drug. Another patient saw her cervical tumor reduce by nearly 60 percent after six months of treatment. Though the drug trial—by Bind Biosciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts—of an experimental nanotechnology-based technique was designed simply to show whether the technology is safe, the encouraging results revive hopes that nanomedicine could realize its elusive promise.

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IT WAS once only drug firms that developed drugs. But this is changing. Take the case of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a Parkinson’s disease charity. On April 19th it announced that it would pay for a clinical trial of a drug developed by Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical giant, that might treat the mental symptoms of the disease.

The deal is the latest sign of a broader shift—one that is driven by desperation. Patents on blockbuster drugs are expiring. Research and development (R&D) have grown less productive, with billions of dollars yielding only a trickle of drugs.