Friday, October 31, 2008

Sandia Labs Biofuels Project - Enzyme Engineering

Biotech News

New Sandia biofuels project focuses on enzyme engineering

LIVERMORE, CA —Biofuels researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have been awarded $600,000 in funding for a two-year, Department of Energy-funded effort titled “Development of Saccharifying Enzymes for Commercial Use.” The award is part of a joint proposal led by industry partner DSM.

Sandia engineer Rajat Sapra will serve as principal investigator on the project, whose additional partners include Abengoa Bioenergy Technologies and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The work will focus on the use of enzymes that break down cellulose for conversion into ethanol and other industrial products that can be derived from biomass. It is a natural extension of Sandia’s current work with enzymes that break down cellulose in plant biomass to sugars for fermentation or biofuels production, Sapra says.

“DSM already has a well-established understanding of enzymes for industrial purposes and how to produce these enzymes for commercial purposes,” says Sapra, who explained that the company possesses a successful industrial fermentation process for non-biofuels applications in areas as diverse as animal feed and food and beverage industry.

“What we plan on doing is to take our expertise in structural and biophysical analysis, apply it to this particular type of enzymes, and help improve the properties of the enzyme through a structural and computational guided rational enzyme engineering process,” he says. Sandia will use various spectroscopic and molecular modeling techniques that will help scientists to better understand how these enzymes break down biomass. “Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is make better, more effective enzymes,” says Sapra.

The project is one of four DOE-funded initiatives announced recently. Covering a four-year period, nearly $34 million has been committed by the Department for the projects, the focus of which will be an extensive enzyme development program with applications in cellulose-based biorefineries for the production of biofuels.

Observe Sandia’s enzyme engineering work in the lab at http://www.ca.sandia.gov/podcast/episodes/200810/2008-5709W/

Visit Sandia’s online newsroom at http://www.sandia.gov/news/index.html.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

TGEN Officials Dr. Michael Berens and MaryAnn Guerra Appointed to Arizona Technology Council board of directors

TGEN Officials Dr. Michael Berens and MaryAnn Guerra Appointed to Arizona Technology Council’s board of directors

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Two top TGen officials appointed to new positions on the Arizona Technology Council’s board of directors


Dr. Michael Berens and MaryAnn Guerra - two top officials of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) - have been appointed to new positions on the board of directors of the Arizona Technology Council.

Dr. Berens, Director of TGen's Cancer and Cell Biology Division, was named Chairman Emeritus on the ATC board, one of four new executive officers named to two-year terms. Dr. Berens, who has served six years on the board - the past two as Chairman of the nearly 500-member organization - also was one of five Director's Emeritus named to serve indefinite terms on the board.

"It is an honor to be named by my peers on the board as one of the organization's leaders. My goal is to strengthen the Arizona Technology Council's efforts to grow the state’s knowledge-based industries by helping to promote key national and international business partnerships," Dr. Berens said.
Guerra, TGen's Chief Business Officer and President of TGen Accelerators LLC, was one of 10 new directors appointed to three-year terms on the 33-member board, following its Oct. 23 meeting.

"Being named to the board is an honor, and presents an exciting opportunity to help the Arizona Technology Council work to diversify the state's economic base with high-paying jobs in the fast-growing fields of medicine, technology and innovation," Guerra said.
The board represents the interests of Arizona's technology industries and advises ATC in its expressed goals of promoting research, education and access to a highly skilled workforce.

Three other newly appointed board executive officers are: Chairman Steve Phillips, CIO of Avnet; Secretary Ray Harris Esq., director of Fennemore Craig; and Treasurer Kevin McHolland, CPA and partner of Ernst & Young.
"The Arizona Technology Council has been the principal point of connection for technology companies," Phillips said. "As the new chairman, I will oversee an agenda that continues to build valuable programs and services for all members and supports technology innovation and growth."

Nine other newly appointed directors are: David Beauchamp, partner, Bryan Cave; Thomas Campbell, partner, Lewis and Roca; Kathleen A. Collins, Mesa functional chief engineer, Boeing; John Cummerford, shareholder, Intellectual Property & Technology, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Greenburg Traurig; Joe Drazek, partner, Quarles and Brady; Carl Lytikainen, senior vice president of Technical Services, Lumension Security; Jane Poynter, president, Paragon Space Development Corporation; Dr. R. F. "Rick" Shangraw, vice president for Research and Economic Affairs, Arizona State University; and Judith K. Weiss, partner, Perkins Coie Brown & Bain.

Four other Director's Emeritus are: Joanne Carthey Bradley, COO, Namescape Corporation; Charles Jirauch, partner, Quarles & Brady LLP; Quinn Williams, shareholder, Greenberg Traurig LLP; and Mark Schonau, CFO, Insysrx.

Steven G. Zylstra, President and Chief Executive Officer of ATC, remains as an executive officer.

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About the Arizona Technology Council

The Arizona Technology Council is a private, not-for-profit trade association founded to connect, represent and support the state's expanding technology industry. To promote economic growth and professional development in Arizona's technology sector, the Council provides members networking opportunities, business support and access to educational forums. The Council strives to distinguish Arizona as a leader in the technology community and offer resources that are exclusive to its members. www.aztechcouncil.org.

About TGen

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. www.tgen.org.

About TGen Accelerators LLC
A firm designed to quickly translate TGen's genetic research discoveries into medical treatments and services.



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Monday, October 27, 2008

assisTek's ePRO Biotech Clinical Trial Data Collection Saves Client $1.6 Million Over Paper Questionnaires

Biotech News
AZhttp, Inc.
Biotechnology Marketing


assisTek's ePRO Biotech Clinical Trial Data Collection Saves Client $1.6 Million Over Paper Questionnaires

Five years ago, a large biotech company began collecting ePRO (electronic patient reported outcomes) data using .assisTek's proven tablet system in clinical trials around the world. Recently, assistek's financial team calculated the costs of using the assisTek system compared to what it would have cost if the client had used traditional paper questionnaires. The results showed that assisTek's ePRO data collection saved the client $1.6 million over paper questionnaires over 10 studies.
All of assisTek's ePRO data collection products deliver patient reported outcomes data in clinical trials that is consistently more than 99% complete
This means that clients can significantly reduce queries, and the significant time and labor traditionally required for resolving them. In addition, our unique system reduces workload by more 90%.

Scottsdale, AZ (PRWEB) October 27, 2008 -- Five years ago, a large biotech company began collecting ePRO (electronic patient reported outcomes) data using assisTek's proven tablet system in clinical trials around the world. Recently, assistek's financial team calculated the costs of using the assisTek system compared to what it would have cost if the client had used traditional paper questionnaires. The results showed that assisTek's ePRO data collection saved the client $1.6 million over paper questionnaires over 10 studies.

biotech ePRO clinical trial cost savings
biotech ePRO clinical trial cost savings

The results were significant and wide ranging. assisTek's ePRO tablets saved the customer money in 7 out of the 10 studies, with 1 study saving over $1,000,000 alone. In addition, the customer benefited from much more rapid access to significantly higher quality data than would be possible with paper-based questionnaires. The customer also enjoyed assisTek's industry leading online study management system, which provides real time management reports, which also would have not been possible with paper questionnaires.

"All of assisTek's ePRO data collection products deliver patient reported outcomes data in clinical trials that is consistently more than 99% complete," said Joy Hebert, Chief Operating Officer. "This means that clients can significantly reduce queries, and the significant time and labor traditionally required for resolving them. In addition, our unique system reduces workload by more 90%."

For more information about assisTek's ePRO systems or to schedule a free no-obligation demonstration, contact Reinet Marneweck at reinet.marneweck@assistek.com.

About .assisTek:
.assisTek is the global leader in ePRO systems and has revolutionized the process of collecting patient-reported outcomes in clinical trials by helping sites collect the data electronically and systematically through large 9 inch tablet touch-screens, iPhones, mobile PDAs, and on the web.
.assisTek's ePRO products are the most advanced in the industry. The .assisTek team has the deepest knowledge and experience in the industry having served more than 45,000 patients in more than 35 therapeutic areas at more than 4,500 sites across 5 continents.

.assisTek, formerly Assist Technologies, can be found on the web at assisTek.com.

BIO-Europe 2008

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BIO-Europe 2008 to Get Biotech Industry Partnerships Started in Challenging Economic Environment

Big pharma has a lot of cash and is looking to spend it



In order to seek out new partnering opportunities, the top 20 big pharma companies will be in attendance on November 17–19 in Mannheim/Heidelberg, Germany for BIO-Europe 2008, the world’s largest stand-alone partnering conference. Accompanied by their teams of scouts from research and business development, many of the most respected industry leaders will travel to the conference from around the world to examine industry issues, learn new business approaches, and most importantly, begin networking with organizations toward successful business deals.

On the minds of many attendees at BIO-Europe 2008 will be the recent credit crisis that is disrupting global markets and pushing economies into recession. Despite this turmoil, partnering gives the industry a reason to be optimistic.

“The current financial crisis has major implications for the biopharmaceutical industry. Capital will be much harder to access for private companies and the hundreds of public companies below USD 500 million in market cap. Companies must rationalize their portfolios and reduce operating expenses to survive”, said well known industry dealmaker and a featured speaker at BIO-Europe 2008, James Watson, Managing Director, Head of Merchant Banking, Burrill & Company. “Conversely, the larger big pharma and biotech companies are less affected and still opportunity poor and cash rich. Although acquisitions are growing in number, these deals are in reality still rare. The real win-win solution is partnerships. At Burrill we see increasing commitment from both sides to partner and greater focus on creative deals that leverage big pharma’s balance sheet in a ’banker role’ but stop short of a full acquisition.”

Echoing this comment, Barbara Yanni, VP and Chief Licensing Officer of Merck & Co., added, “Partnering has been a key strategic priority for Merck for many years. Over 65% of Merck's 2007 revenue came from in-licensed products and patents. Our commitment to partnering grows increasingly stronger each day. This should be very good news for small companies that have made significant discoveries and are seeking a partner to realize the vision of bringing new medicines to patients worldwide.”

Further, as reported by BioWorld Today, in addressing a recent industry gathering this October, David Brennan, CEO of AstraZeneca plc, said, "The crisis makes it even more important for cash-rich pharma companies like AstraZeneca to do more partnership deals. Strong companies don't sit around passively waiting for the [financial] storm to pass. For AstraZeneca, strategic partnering is priority.”

All of these remarks are reflected in BIO-Europe’s continuing growth this year and exemplify what industry data have illustrated for years: partnering is a key catalyst for the industry’s growth. BioWorld Today data indicate that the total number of annual bio-partnering deals has doubled from 600 in 1997 to more than 1,200 in 2007, with 400 biotech-big pharma collaborations in 2007, and more than 600 other biotech partnerships.

This year’s event will continue its 15-year legacy of providing quality partnering meetings and informative sessions. With over 2,300 delegates expected for BIO-Europe, industry leaders know where partnering deals begin.

Notes to Editors:

Entry to BIO-Europe 2008 is free to the media, including full access to the partnering system, sessions, press conferences, workshops, and pre-arranged partnering meetings. Visit the BIO-Europe conference Web site at http://www.ebdgroup.com/bioeurope for detailed information on this year’s conference and online registration. When you register online, please indicate in the comment field that you are requesting a complimentary press registration. Please fax a copy of your press pass to complete your complimentary media registration to fax number +49 89 23 88 756-55.

About BIO-Europe

BIO-Europe is the preeminent stand-alone partnering event for the biotechnology industry. Delegates from all parts of the biotechnology value-chain come to BIO-Europe to efficiently identify, engage and enter into the strategic relationships that drive their business successfully forward. The annual BIO-Europe partnering event draws over 2,200 industry attendees from almost 50 countries, representing more than 1,250 companies, for three days of high-level networking. BIO-Europe is organized by EBD Group with the support of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and European Biopharmaceutical Enterprises. For more information please visit http://www.ebdgroup.com/bioeurope

About EBD Group

EBD Group is the leading partnering firm for the global life science industry. Since 1993, biotech, pharma and medical device companies have leveraged EBD Group’s partnering conferences, technology and services to identify business opportunities and develop strategic relationships essential to their success.

EBD Group’s conferences are run with the support of leading corporations and international trade associations and include:

* BIO-Europe and BIO-Europe Spring®, the world's largest stand-alone life science partnering conferences, supported by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
* BioPharm America™, EBD Group’s North American partnering event
* EuroMedtech™, EBD Group’s new partnering event for the innovative medical technology industry
* BioEquity Europe, the investor conference co-organized with BioCentury Publications and BIO

EBD Group’s sophisticated Web-based partnering service, partneringONE™, is used as the partnering engine at numerous third-party events around the world. Outside of the conference format, EBD Group’s consultants provide hands-on assistance for firms seeking to in- or out-license products and technologies.

EBD Group has offices in the USA and Europe.

For more information please visit www.ebdgroup.com

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Multiple Sclerosis Drug - Bolder BioTechnology - NIH Grant

Bolder BioTechnology Receives $1.6 million NIH Grant to Continue Development of Multiple Sclerosis Drug

Bolder BioTechnology, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a $1.6 million Phase II Continuing Renewal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, entitled "Long-Acting Beta Interferon for Multiple Sclerosis", from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of The National Institutes of Health (NIH). Receipt of the entire grant award is contingent upon the achievement of certain research milestones.

Biotech News

The new grant award will be used to perform preclinical studies required by the Food and Drug Administration for filing an Investigational New Drug application to begin testing our long-acting beta interferon analog in people. Recombinant beta interferon products have annual worldwide sales of approximately $5 billion, primarily from use of the drugs to treat Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating neurological disease that affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million people worldwide. Current commercial beta interferon products are only partially effective and are inconvenient to use because they must be injected frequently, typically for the life of the patient. Our long-acting beta interferon analog was designed to provide patients with a more efficacious and easier to use product."

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Daniel Von Hoff finalist for William F. McWhortor Community Service Leader of the Year award

TGen’s Dr. Daniel Von Hoff is a finalist for prestigious Arizona technology community service award


Dr. Daniel Von Hoff PHOENIX, Ariz. - Oct. 15, 2008 -- Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen's Physician-in-Chief, is one of three nominees for the 2008 William F. McWhortor Community Service Leader of the Year award.

Biotech News

The McWhortor award is presented annually to an individual or organization from industry, government or academia that contributes to Arizona's technology industry through relentless community involvement, leadership, visibility and excellence in economic development activity.

The winner will be announced during the Governor's Celebration of Innovation from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Dodge Theatre, 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix. The awards are organized through the Governor's Office, the Arizona Department of Commerce and the Arizona Technology Council.

Dr. Von Hoff also is Chief Scientific Officer of TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona, and a member of the Mayo Clinic's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In addition to being an accomplished and recognized cancer scientist, Dr. Von Hoff has been tireless in what he has brought to the Arizona community. He is a founder of TGen, a founder of the non-profit International Genomics Consortium based in Phoenix, and has helped bring countless other jobs to this community. His commitment was instrumental in helping establish the Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute, a hospital-based research institute that serves as a bridge between cure and care. It is one of the finest programs in the nation in its ability to help patients with advanced cancer. It is emblematic of the translation of discoveries in genomic science to specific treatments for individual patients.

Dr. Von Hoff is committed to the professional advancement of younger colleagues, recruiting young investigators and incorporating teaching into every staff meeting. With his encouragement and guidance, younger scientists develop new research and present findings.

His warmth and humor sustain his staff in one of the most challenging fields of medicine, and his colleagues and staff refer to him as the "heart and soul" of the cancer research program.

Dr. Von Hoff earned his medical degree at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1973. Following an internship and residency at the University of California, San Francisco, he spent four years at the prestigious National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.

After experience at the forefront of cancer research at NCI, he joined the faculty of the University of Texas in San Antonio, where during the next 20 years he expanded the knowledge of cancer biology and tumor growth factors.

Dr. Von Hoff moved to Arizona in 1999, serving as Director of the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson, and as Professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, before joining TGen.

In addition to his other duties, Dr. Von Hoff is serving a six-year presidential appointment (June 2004-March 2010) on the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Advisory Board. He also is past president of the American Association for Cancer Research, which with more than 28,000 members is the world's largest cancer research organization. He has published more than 540 scientific papers, more than 130 book chapters, and nearly 950 scientific abstracts. He is the holder of a dozen patents for new anti-cancer agents and medical devices.

For more than 35 years, Dr. Von Hoff has been devoted to advancing the understanding and treatment of cancer. His programs have two main goals:

-- Applying new knowledge to identify the best new targeted anti-cancer agents to treat individual cancer patients.

-- Curing pancreatic cancer.

The William F. McWhortor Community Service Leader of the Year award is named in honor of the late co-founder of the Arizona Innovation Network and its successor professional groups in Arizona, including the Arizona Technology Council, which have supported creative technological thinking. McWhortor, a Fountain Hills resident who died in 1997, patented a pattern recognition device in 1989 to help stop counterfeit checks.

Past winners of the McWhortor award include:

-- Ira A. Fulton, chairman and chief executive officer of Tempe-based Fulton Homes Inc.

-- Former Arizona State University President Lattie Coor.

-- Richard Mallery, partner and founding director of the Phoenix law firm Snell & Wilmer, for his successful efforts to bring the Translational Genomics Research Institute to Arizona.

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About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process.

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