Thursday, June 11, 2009

BIO hosts events at UNFCCC in Bonn

BIO to Host Side Event at Bonn Climate Change Talks “Biotechnology: Solutions for Climate Change”

WHAT: The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) will host a side event at the upcoming UNFCCC Climate Change Talks in Bonn. Biotechnology offers a broad range of tools to address climate change. This briefing will focus on clean, renewable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels and products, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes, and the use of sustainable agricultural practices.

WHO: Stephanie Batchelor, Manager, Industrial & Environmental Section, BIO;
Willy De Greef, Secretary General, EuropaBio.

WHEN: Monday, June 1st from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

WHERE: Ministry of Environment, WIND Room
Robert-Schuman-Platz 3
53175 Bonn

NOTE: For additional information, please contact Stephanie Batchelor at 202-742-6498,, or Paul Winters at 202-962-9237,

For a full list of side events at the Bonn Climate Change Talks, visit

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 technologies. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.

Upcoming BIO Events

BioEquity Europe
June 9-10, 2009
Munich, Germany

World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing
July 19-22, 2009
Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
Paul Winters, 202-962-9237

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Celera cuts its last tie to Maryland biotech

It’s official, the end of an era. Celera Corp., once among the biggest biotech brand names in the Washington area, is shuttering its last remaining operation in the region.

The company, which moved its home base to Alameda, Calif., last year, is laying off 20 of its 25 local employees and closing its 41,000-square-foot operation in Rockville by the end of the third quarter.

A small number of employees working on lung cancer diagnostic tests could move to the West Coast, while only one or two employees might stay in Rockville.

In its heyday, Celera employed 550 people in the company’s 220,000-square-foot headquarters on West Gude Drive, making it one of the region’s biggest success stories as it raced to map the humane genome.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

$18 million awarded to TGen and University of Pennsylvania

$18 million awarded to TGen and University of Pennsylvania for pancreatic cancer research from Stand Up to Cancer

Scottsdale Healthcare at Shea Medical Center a primary clinical site

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) will receive $18 million to research pancreatic cancer, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) announced today.
Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen’s Physician-In-Chief, and Dr. Craig B. Thompson, Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn, are co-leaders of SU2C pancreatic cancer "Dream Team," which will lead a three-year investigation into new approaches to treating pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

"We want to do something dramatic. It is going to take a tremendous amount of real thinking power to make that difference, so it is a dream come true to be able to put this team together to work towards this goal," said Dr. Von Hoff, who also is Chief Scientific Officer for TGen Clinical Research Services (TCRS) at Scottsdale Healthcare, a primary clinical research site for TGen and the SU2C grant.

The $18 million to TGen and Penn was the largest single grant among five awards, totaling $74 million, announced by SU2C, a philanthropic group created by cancer scientists and members of the entertainment industry a year ago today to quickly turn scientific discoveries into ways to care for cancer patients.

The goal of the pancreatic cancer Dream Team research project – "Cutting Off the Fuel Supply" – is to develop tests, using advanced imaging techniques, to determine what nutrients pancreatic cancer cells require to fuel their growth and survival. Understanding the cell’s fuel supply will help scientists develop more individualized treatments with fewer side effects.

TGen and its clinical partner at TCRS will launch a series of innovative clinical trials in advanced pancreatic cancer. These clinical trials will be designed to deprive pancreatic tumors of crucial nutrients, thereby cutting off the fuel supply.

TCRS is located at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center in Scottsdale. Other clinical sites in the study are at Penn in Philadelphia and at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The TGen-Penn team will combine translational methods developed at the University of Pennsylvania with individualized-therapies emphasized by TGen to rapidly move laboratory findings to bedside treatments, benefiting pancreatic cancer patients as quickly as possible. They will test the drugs in combination with existing standard chemotherapy, with the hope of improving quality of life while increasing the percentage of patients surviving beyond one year.

Since its inception in 2002, TGen has pioneered cutting-edge research in genomic medicine, enabling physicians to design targeted and individualized therapies for patients suffering from cancer and other debilitating diseases.

About Dr. Daniel Von Hoff

In addition to his positions at TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare, Dr. Von Hoff is Chief Scientific Officer for US Oncology, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona. His major interest is in the development of new anticancer agents. Dr. Von Hoff’s work focuses on the development of molecularly targeted therapies for patients with pancreatic and other advanced cancers. He is serving a six-year term on the National Cancer Advisory Board and has served on the FDA’s Oncology Advisory Committee. Dr. Von Hoff is a past president of the American Association for Cancer Research, was on the AACR and the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Board of Directors, and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians.

About Dr. Craig Thompson

In addition to his position at the Abramson Cancer Center, Dr. Thompson is the Associate Vice President for Cancer Services at the University of Pennsylvania Heath System, director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and the John H. Glick professor of medicine and cancer biology at the university’s School of Medicine. His research focuses on how alterations in the control of cell metabolism contribute to cancer cell development and survival. He has contributed to the development of new treatments for autoimmune diseases and leukemia.

About pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and it remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Over 90 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. Recent advancements have had little impact, and a new approach is desperately needed.

Using modern tumor imaging, it is possible to monitor a tumor’s glucose utilization and such tests are now routinely used in clinical practice. In most cases, the more glucose a tumor is using, the more advanced the tumor and the greater likelihood of spread. Similarly, if a tumor is using less glucose as a response to chemotherapy, then it is a good indication that the tumor is responding to treatment.

Pancreatic cancer presents a unique challenge because it is addicted to another molecule, glutamine, rather than glucose. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps build muscle mass and is used by some cells for energy. When cancer feeds or metabolizes excess amounts of gluatamine, it can lead to extreme weight loss by robbing other cells of this important nutrient, a condition from which many pancreatic cancer patients suffer. In addition, the waste that is a by-product of this process generates an intense reaction from surrounding normal cells, which then secrete growth factors that help tumor cells grow. Cancers that use excess glutamine are often resistant to standard forms of chemotherapy, another characteristic of pancreatic cancer.

About the Dream Teams

The five Dream Teams – culled from 237 submissions – are comprised of seven leaders, four co-leaders and 27 principal researchers from more than 20 leading institutions, with more than 300 individuals participating:

"Cutting off the Fuel Supply: A New Approach to the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer" – $18 million – Leaders: Craig B. Thompson, M.D., Director, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., Senior Investigator and Physician in Chief at the Translational Research Genomics Institute (TGen).

"An Integrated Approach to Targeting Molecular Breast Cancer Molecular Subtypes and Their "Resistance" Phenotypes" – $16.5 million – Leaders: Joe W. Gray, Ph.D., Life Sciences Division Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dennis J. Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Clinical/Translational Research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Targeting the PI3K Pathway in Women’s Cancers" – $15 million – Leader: Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Signal Transduction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Co-Leaders: Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., Director of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Gordon B. Mills, M.D., Ph.D., Chair, Department of Systems Biology, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"Bioengineering and Clinical Applications of Circulating Tumor Cells Chip" – $15 million – Leader: Daniel A. Haber, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center; Co-Leader: Mehmet Toner, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Harvard Medical School.

"Bringing Epigenetic Therapy to the Forefront of Cancer Management" – $9.12 million – Leader: Stephen B. Baylin, M.D., Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins; Co-Leader: Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Urology and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Southern California.
Collectively, the research that will be done through the Dream Team projects could impact the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of cancers in adults and children across ethnicities including, but not limited to pancreatic, breast, ovarian, cervical, uterine, brain, lung, prostate, rectal and colon. These represent two-thirds of all U.S. cancer deaths; 562,340 people are expected to die of cancer this year in the U.S., where on average 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. Worldwide, cancer annually kills nearly almost 8 million.

"(S)cientists need more money for research and easier ways to work together; and the entertainment industry has unique resources that can be called upon to help make every American aware that each and every one of us has a role to play in advancing cancer research," said Sherry Lansing, Board Chair of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and a member of the SU2C Executive Leadership Council. "From the person who can give five dollars to the philanthropist who can give millions, we are all connected to the devastation that cancer causes in our families, and together, we can Stand Up to end it."

On behalf of Stand Up To Cancer, the 28,000-member American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will be responsible for administering the grants.

Major donors

Major League Baseball was the first major donor to contribute to Stand Up To Cancer. Other major SU2C supporters include: Jones Apparel Group Inc. founder Sidney Kimmel, Amgen, AARP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, GlaxoSmithKline, Revlon, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Wallis Annenberg & The Annenberg Foundation, Alliance for Global Good, New York Giants, Milken Family Foundation, Philips Electronics, Steve Tisch, and The Island Def Jam Music Group.

About Stand Up To Cancer
The Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) movement raises funds to hasten the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. In 2007, a group of women whose lives have all been affected by cancer in profound ways began working together to marshal the resources of the media and entertainment industries in the fight against the disease. For more information about Stand Up To Cancer, please visit

About the American Association for Cancer Research
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focusing on every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research from the bench to the bedside. Lauded internationally for its scientific breadth, innovation and spread of new knowledge about cancer, the AACR is on the front lines in the quest for the prevention and cure of cancer.

About the Entertainment Industry Foundation
The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), as a leading charitable organization of the entertainment industry, has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support programs addressing critical health, education and social issues.

About Scottsdale Healthcare:
Scottsdale Healthcare ( is the not-for-profit parent organization of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak Hospital, Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute, TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, Scottsdale Healthcare Home Health Services, Scottsdale Healthcare Community Health Services, NOAH Clinics and Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation. Scottsdale Healthcare ER wait times are updated every three minutes at

About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based 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. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit:

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Big Web 2.0 Technology Challenges

Big Web 2.0 Technology Challenges: Moderating Biotech, Pharma and Medical User-generated Content (UGC)

I know this post has jumped ahead in order of my planned posts on the technology challenges created in by Web 2.0. However, I recently had a few inquiries in this area (from friends, analysts and colleagues.) As such, I thought it would be beneficial to move this topic up in my series.

In general, moderation of UGC is not a simple prospect. Moderation of UGC in a regulated space is even tougher – especially in the very highly regulated biotech, pharmaceutical and medical industries (where regulation compliance is essentially intended to protect human life). Based on the sensitivity of this topic, it is worth diverting a little of your attention to some disclaimers and background information:

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Food & Beverage Focus 2009 to discuss Biotechnology applications in the sector

The use of biotechnology (BT), which initially was employed in the traditional food processing sector in the form of home-made fermented cheese and yoghurt, is now one of the frontline technologies in food and beverage and dietary supplements sectors. Resultantly, several food and supplement segments have transformed into high value markets. Diverse technologies such as gene modification, transfer, in-vitro vegetative propagation of plants, to name a few, have been used in agriculture in order to improve crop yield and create disease resistant variants.

Food & Beverage Focus 2009, to be held on May 27 at Hyatt Regency in Mumbai, will he plunging into such topics surrounding the biotechnology trends, associated safety hazards and leveraging BT in the industry. The event is being organised by Frost & Sullivan and the theme would be "Biotechnology applications in F&B sector and dietary supplements sector."

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Cloud Computing Brings Cost Of Protein Research Down To Earth

ScienceDaily (Apr. 13, 2009) — Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center in Milwaukee have just made the very expensive and promising area of protein research more accessible to scientists worldwide.

hey have developed a set of free tools called ViPDAC (virtual proteomics data analysis cluster), to be used in combination with Amazon's inexpensive "cloud computing" service, which provides the option to rent processing time on its powerful servers; and free open-source software from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of Manitoba.

Their research appears online in Journal of Proteomic Research and is funded by the NIH Heart Lung and Blood Institute's Proteomics Innovation Center at the Medical College. Proteomics is a biomedical research term used to describe the large-scale study of all the proteins expressed by an organism. It usually involves the identification of proteins and determination of their modifications in both normal and disease states.

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You Are Here Will Be There at World's Largest Bio-Technology Tradeshow

Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) April 10, 2009 -- MarketArt announced today that it has signed a multi-year event marketing agreement with Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) to provide its You Are Here interactive directory system at the organization's international conferences. The 2009 BIO International Convention, the largest biotechnology event in the world, will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The conference attracts over 20,000 attendees and 2,200 exhibitors. Tradeshow Week cited the convention as the 2008 Top Association Show and included the event on its Fastest 50 list for the second consecutive year.

The You Are Here system will be deployed on 15 touch-screen stations distributed throughout the show floor. The system helps attendees find their way to the companies, products and services of highest interest to them, and enables exhibitors to extend their reach, promote their offerings and attract qualified traffic to their booths.

"After experimenting with other electronic directories in the past, we chose the You Are Here solution based on its extraordinary usage numbers and overall attendee and exhibitor satisfaction demonstrated at other shows employing the system," explained Chris Galione, Senior Sales Executive at BIO. "Last year's results proved we made the right decision. Our goal is to make our convention's networking and partnering opportunities as cutting-edge, exciting and productive as possible for our attendees, exhibitors and members."

About MarketArt -
MarketArt is a digital media technology company that develops and sells interactive media and advertising systems to both online and to out-of-home markets. The company is the leading provider of electronic directories to the trade show market with its You Are Here products.

You Are Here from MarketArt is an electronic, map-based, interactive directory and wayfinding system for attendees, exhibitors and managers of trade shows and exhibitions. The system is deployed both on a show's web site and on the show floor itself and is employed by many of the largest tradeshows in the U.S. You Are Here replaces traditional printed materials and is especially important to environmentally 'green' shows.

About BIO -
BIO represents more than 1,400 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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Facet Biotech Gets New Majority Shareholder

Facet Biotech, the Redwood City drug development company that is facing a proxy fight, now has has a new majority shareholder, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday.

The Baupost Group, a Boston investment company run by Seth Klarman, disclosed owning 4,374,407 shares of Facet, or about 17.8 percent of its outstanding stock. The news was filed on an SC 13D form, the kind of form used by active investors. Although Klarman said he had no plans currently to acquire more shares or to enact any “extraordinary corporate transaction, such as a merger, reorganization or liquidation, he did say that intends “from time to time to discuss with management” issues about the company and its “strategic direction”.

Facet, formed less than four months ago as a spin-off of the drug development operations of PDL Biopharma from its licensing business, was notified last month by Roderick Wong of his intention to nominate four directors of his own choosing to the company’s board as part of his intention that the company liquidate itself.

In a response to Wong issued Monday by the chairman of Facet’s board, the company basically thanked him for his “input” but said it preferred its own plans.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sinovac Biotech Q4 Net Income Increases Slightly

Sinovac Biotech, a China-based biopharmaceutical company, has reported a net income of $2.4 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to $2 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, in the same period of 2007.

For the fourth quarter of 2008, sales were $12.4 million, compared to $9.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2007. For the 12 months ended December 31, 2008, sales reached $46.5 million, compared to $33.5 million for the full year 2007, representing 39% growth.

The year-over-year increase in sales reflected Sinovac's strategy to continue to devote significant resources to marketing Healive to the private pay market in China, as compared to the market created by government purchasing initiatives under the Expanded Immunization Program that may include the lower priced, live hepatitis A vaccine produced by state owned entities.

Net income for the 12 months ended December 31, 2008 was $8 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, compared to $7.7 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, for the same period of 2007.

Weidong Yin, chairman, president and CEO, of Sinovac, said: "We are pleased with our results for the quarter and the year, with full year 2008 sales up 39%, in line with our expectations. The sales of our vaccines continue to grow as awareness of the benefits of inoculations for hepatitis A and seasonal influenza increases across China.

"Although we are feeling the effect of the financial crisis, the healthcare industry is not very sensitive to the economic cycle. Sinovac has accumulated resources of technological expertise, operation management experiences, and investment capability, which positions the company well to execute our sales growth strategy in 2009 and achieve our full year sales increase of 20% over 2008 levels."

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Farmers Will Talk About Ag Biotech Benefits at Convention Session

BIO At the 2009 BIO International Convention, this session will explore the benefits of agricultural biotechnology from the farmer’s perspective.

With the advent of biotech, millions of farmers around the world have experienced several expected – as well as some not-so-expected – benefits by using biotechnology on their farms.

As the ag biotech industry continues to gain worldwide acceptance, understanding and exploring these benefits provides the complete story of the long term impact biotech has the opportunity to have on farms of all sizes.

This session tilted, “Ag Biotech – Improving Farmers Lives” will include a panel of growers from the Philippines, Portugal and the United States. It is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20, 8:00am-9:30am at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Many of the scheduled events are now posted on the BIO International Convention website. Hosted by BIO, the global event for biotechnology will take place May 18-21, 2009, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga., and is expected to draw 20,000 industry leaders from around the world.

The convention program will feature more than 150 sessions in 21 breakout session tracks highlighting the latest information and the newest opportunities for executives, investors, scientists, policy leaders, and media from around the world. More than 1,000 speakers will share breakthroughs in medicine, diagnostics, the environment, energy production, food and agriculture and more.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

UNCC Names Winners of Five Ventures

UNC Charlotte selected the winners of the annual Five Ventures entrepreneurial business competition.

Countervail Corp., of Charlotte, was named the winner in the biotechnology-pharmeceutical category for its plans to repurpose an Alzheimer’s drug to protect against nerve gas and pesticides.

Charlotte-based HepatoSys Inc. was the winner in the biotechnology-devices category. The company proposed developing products related to preserving and restoring human organs for transplant.

Balaya, of Savannah, Ga., was named the winner in the information-technology and software-as-a-service category.

TrakLok Corp., of Knoxville, Tenn., was named the winner in services and retail.

Raleigh-based Entogenetics won in the student and nonprofit category.

The competition, in its ninth year, tests the business acumen of startup companies for a chance to win more than $100,000 in cash and in-kind services. Fifteen start-up companies competed in the finals.

Sponsors of the 2009 Five Ventures competition include UNC Charlotte and the Ben Craig Center.

The conference is presented by the Charlotte Research Institute.

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Photobiological Hydrogen Production from Water. Hydrogen Biofuel.

* “A select set of microalgae are reported to be able to catalyse photobiological H(2) production from water.”1

Researchers from School of Biological Sciences, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, and SRC for Functional and Applied Genomics, the University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia; have presented an article titled: “Phylogenetic and molecular analysis of hydrogen-producing green algae.”

The researchers from St Lucia, Queensland, Australia; have also noted:

* “Based on the model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a method was developed for the screening of naturally occurring H(2)-producing microalgae.”

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

C5 Biotech Patenting Conference

C5 (UK) will be holding its annual Biotech Patenting conference on June 16-17, 2009 in Munich, Germany. The conference will allow attendees to:

• Identify the principles followed by the courts and patent offices when determining inventorship and entitlement disputes;
• Capitalize on gene patenting and stem cell related inventions;
• Understand the practical impact of recent case law and other legal developments;
• Broaden your knowledge of effective claim construction to avoid patent challenges and defend the validity of their claims;
• Formulate strategies and tactics to conduct successful cross-jurisdictional litigation;
• Tackle the latest scientific and legal developments within antibodies in Europe and the U.S.; and
• Master the practicalities of biotech patenting in China and India.

In particular, C5 faculty will offer presentations on the following topics:

863L09-MUN • Review of key European case law developments affecting biotech patent practice;
• EPO examiner's perspective: An overview on biotechnology related patentability issues, with particular emphasis on antibodies and vaccines;

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Harvest Scientists Say Biotech Seed Companies Are Foiling Research

`` Biotech companies are holding university scientists from fully researching the effectivity and environmental impact of the industry 's genetically modified harvests, according to an unusual ailment released by a grouping of those scientists. `` No really independent research can be lawfully dealt on many critical inquiries, '' the scientists composed in a statement submitted to the Epa. The EPA is seeking public inputs for scientific meetings it will keep following hebdomad on biotechnology harvests. ''

`` The investigators, 26 corn-insect specialiser, withheld their names because they feared being severed from research by the companies. But several of them concord in interviews to hold their names utilized. The job, the scientists state, is that grangers and other purchasers of genetically engineered seeds should subscribe an understanding intended to assure that agriculturists honor company patent rights and environmental ordinances. But the understandings besides nix turning the harvests for research aims. So while university scientists can loosely purchase pesticides or conventional seeds for their research, they can not make that with genetically engineered seeds. Alternatively, they must seek permission from the seed companies. And sometimes that permission is denied or the company insists on reexamining any determinations before they can be printed, they tell. Such understandings hold long been a job, the scientists stated, but they are moving populace now because defeat holds been making. `` If a company can command the research that looks in the public orbit, they can cut the possible negatives that can come out of any research, '' stated Cognizance Ostlie, an bugologist at the University of Minnesota, who was one of the scientists who holded subscribed the statement. ''

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Genentech Executives Leave as Roche, Soriot Arrive

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- Genentech Inc., the biotechnology company bought by Roche Holding AG for $46.8 billion, lost its chief financial officer, head of product development and compliance manager after the Swiss drugmaker named a new chief executive officer for the unit.

Pascal Soriot, 49, who now heads Roche’s commercial pharmaceutical operations, will become Genentech’s CEO, responsible for all U.S. pharmaceutical operations, beginning May 1. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, 51, the product development leader who has been a Genentech executive since 1995, will leave at mid-year and join the Genentech Scientific Resource Board, Roche said in a statement yesterday.

The changes begin the company’s transformation to a team- oriented culture from one that supports individual scientific enterprise, said Stephen Burrill, a venture capitalist who invests in biotechnology companies. Soriot will succeed current Genentech’s Arthur Levinson, 59, who will stay on as chairman. Roche officials also will take over from the other departing executives, the company said.

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Patrick Sides with Unions in Biotech Spat

Deval Patrick surprised both his aides and Massachusetts Biotechnology Council staff Tuesday when he strode in to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s annual meeting to give his keynote address flanked by a dozen union brass who have had nothing but vitriol for the industry in recent months.

After a gracious introduction, lauding the Governor as the best friend any state’s biotech industry could have, Patrick said:

“One in five unemployed people in this state work in construction. These people do not feel they’ve been given a fair shake by this industry, and that has to change...I could not tell you who to hire for which jobs at which building projects, but I would ask you, as your friend, your partner and your governor, to give them a fair shake.”

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No More Free Lunches For Doctors?

Connecticut doctors would be prohibited from accepting certain gifts from drug and medical device companies under a plan being considered by lawmakers.

The measure is drawing criticism from the pharmaceutical industry, which contends it would stifle the use of new medications while doing little to ensure the industry is exerting undue influence on doctors’ decisions regarding which drugs they prescribe.

Patterned after an even stricter law passed a month ago in Massachusetts, the plan would ban industry representatives from buying meals for doctors and require them to report to the Department of Public Health any gifts worth more than $1,000.

The Massachusetts law now requires public disclosure of payments greater than $50 to doctors. Meanwhile, Vermont is also weighing tougher rules on gifts and compensation to health care providers.

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Babcock Incubator Gets Wet Lab Grant

A matching grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center will allow the Babcock Demon Incubator to expand its new wet lab facility at the Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem.

That facility, which opened last September, provides low-cost lab space equipped with specialized plumbing and venting to startup nanotech and biotech firms.

The grant funding includes $70,578 from the Biotech Center, matched with $35,739 from the incubator itself. That money will be used to upfit the existing incubator withi core lab equipment including microscopes, cell and tissue culture equipment and electrophoresis equipment.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

'Biotechnology' is Lecture Topic

The Meet the Scientist Lecture Series will continue April 15 with a panel discussion on "Biotechnology — Advances in Medicine and Manufacturing."

The panelists will include Mark Emalfarb, founder and CEO of Dyadic International, a Jupiter biotechnology firm; and Timothy Spicer, a member of the Translational Institute at Scripps Florida.

The event will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Jupiter High School auditorium and is open and free to the public.

Dr. Stefan Harzen of the Taras Oceanographic Foundation will be the moderator for the event. Taras Oceanographic Foundation and the Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy at Jupiter High School are the producers.

Residents to join others at 'Tea Party'

Residents of North County will be among those participating in the local "Tea Party" on April 15 at 5 p.m. at the Palm Beach County Government Center, 301 N. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach, across from the courthouse.

This "Tea Party" is one of many in the country, including another in Fort Lauderdale.

Public invited to 'Tax Relief Night'

The public is invited to a "Tax Relief Night" event on April 16 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Square Grouper Tiki Bar, 1111 Love St.

Cost is $10 per person, with the proceeds going to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum.

Howard Livingstone will provide live music.

Chamber seeks award nominations

To honor local small businesses, the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber is accepting Small Business of the Year Award Applications with the Leadership Awards Dinner set for June 4.

To be eligible, businesses must:

•Be in good standing with the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce at time of application (April 17) and the award presentation (June 18).

•Be in business for a minimum of three full years.

•Have fewer than 50 employees.

•Be a for-profit business based in Palm Beach County.

Deadline for application is April 17.

Request an application from the Chamber at (561) 746-7111 or e-mail

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Pfizer Reorganizes for Wyeth Deal With Biotech Focus

(Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc. is breaking its research operations into two units, a biotechnology division to be led by a senior executive from Wyeth and a pharmaceutical group that will be run by a Pfizer scientist.

The reorganization, designed to smooth the integration of Wyeth, will take effect when Pfizer’s planned $63 billion acquisition closes later this year, Pfizer said today in a statement. Pfizer will retain eight Wyeth executives, including Mikael Dolsten, now president of Wyeth research. Dolsten will lead the combined company’s biotechnology arm.

Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Kindler has been restructuring research operations at New York-based Pfizer for two years. He agreed to buy rival Wyeth, based in Madison, New Jersey, to add vaccines, biotechnology medicines and over-the- counter products. Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, needs to increase new-drug development as it braces to lose $10 billion in annual sales in 2011, when patent protection ends for its cholesterol pill Lipitor, analysts said.

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Biogen's Stock Rises on Takeover Chatter

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Shares of Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O) were nearly 5 percent higher on Tuesday amid stock market speculation the biotechnology company could be a takeover target, traders said.

Shares of Biogen were up 4.9 percent to $52.05 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq. Biogen's gains countered weakness in the biotech index .BTK, which was down 1.9 percent.

"Biogen Idec is recently up ... on renewed takeover chatter," said Paul Foster, options strategist at

Biogen decline to comment.

Traders in Europe said there were market rumors that Sanofi-Aventis SA (SASY.PA) could bid at least $75 a share for Biogen. Sanofi could not be immediately reached for comment.

Biogen has been under renewed pressure from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who plans to nominate his own slate to serve on the biotechnology company's board of directors.

"Biogen is getting a lot of attention again on hopes that Icahn can gain some traction and push it toward a sale," said one trader who declined to be named.

Biogen, which won a previous proxy battle against Icahn, has recommended that its stockholders vote against Icahn's latest proposal.

Icahn previously accused Biogen of deliberately sabotaging an earlier auction of the company because it would not allow potential bidders to talk to its partners, Elan Corp Plc (ELN.I) of Ireland and biotechnology company Genentech Inc.

Biogen, which sells the multiple sclerosis drugs Avonex and Tysabri, and the cancer drug Rituxan, said it conducted a responsible auction, but no buyer was interested in acquiring the company for an acceptable price.

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Cougar Biotech Initiated at Hold

Cougar Biotechnology, Inc. - Initiating with Hold Recommendation

Cougar Biotechnology, Inc. (CGRB) will generate no revenue in 2009, and operating expenses will significantly increase during the year as the second phase III trial for CB7630 commences. We model operating expenses to increase to $83.0 million in 2009, up from $63.1 million in 2008. We forecast EPS of ($3.94) in 2009.

Cougar had $91 million in cash and securities investments at the end of 2008. Cash used in operations was $44.7 million in 2008 and $15.4 million in the fourth quarter 2008.

At the most recent quarter cash-burn rate, the company can operate for no longer than 18 months without an additional capital injection. However, we expect the cash-burn rate to materially increase throughout 2009 as the company funds its two large phase III trials for CB7630.

We estimate the company will need additional capital by the first quarter of 2010 and expect the company to look for additional financing or a development/commercialization partner on CB7630 or CB3304 to address their funding needs.

Timeline for CB7630

Interim data from the CB7630 '302 trial may be available later this year. We expect to see the full data from the this trial in the first half of 2010 and, depending on the results, we believe Cougar could file for approval shortly afterwards. Assuming the application is granted Priority Review with a six-month review time, we believe CB7630 could launch in late 2010 and generate $50 million in revenue for that year.

Based on the encouraging trial data to-date and the significant unmet need that CB7630 is being developed to address, we would expect sales to ramp rapidly upon FDA approval and model sales of $125 million and $200 million in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Operating expenses will remain elevated over the next three years but should significantly decrease as a percent of revenue beginning in 2011.

We do not expect the company to generate positive net income until 2012, when we model EPS of $0.67. Risk to our forecast is a longer than anticipated enrollment period for the '302 trial, resulting in regulatory filing timelines being delayed relative to our current expectations.

Upside could materialize with a partnering arrangement on CB7630 or CB3340. We also believe Cougar is potentially an attractive acquisition target for larger companies with significant interest in oncology including Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Bristol-Myers Squibb Inc. (BMY), AstraZeneca plc (AZN) and Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY).

Cougar Biotech shares currently trade at $33.16. We recommend that investors hold at the current price and forecast an EPS loss of $3.94 in 2009. Our price target is $37.

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Biotech Chief Bemoans Lack of Start-up Cash

Keith Powell believes UK start-ups suffer unduly from the limited venture capital funding available for early-stage businesses.

"It is survival of the fittest in Europe," he said. "In the US, there is more venture capital available. Companies can focus on developing products rather than staying in business."

As chief executive of PolyTherics, a London-based biotech business that won £2.3m of venture capital funding in 2007 to develop technologies to make drugs last longer in the body, he says the small number of start-ups available to investors is a factor.

"In California, you throw a stone and you can hit 10 biotech companies. It is good being a successful small company in London, but it would be good to have a community of small companies."

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Biotech crops' global value reaches $7.5 billion

MANILA, Philippines - The global market value of biotechnology crops reached $7.5 billion in 2008, up from $6.9 billion in 2007.

Last year’s $7.5 billion represented 14 percent Dr. Clive James, founder and current board chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

New York (USA)-based ISAAA is a not-for-profit organization with an international network of centers designed to contribute to the alleviation of hunger and poverty by sharing knowledge and crop biotechnology applications.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

TGen intern wins prestigious national Goldwater Scholarship

PHOENIX, Ariz. – April 02, 2009 – Joshua Niska, an intern at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), has won a $7,500 national Goldwater Scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence In Education Foundation.

Niska is among five TGen interns who have won this prestigious national award including his brother, Jared Niska. Goldwater Scholarships are considered the nation's highest undergraduate award in science, math and engineering.

Josh Niska, who plans to attend medical school, teach and pursue a career in medicine and cancer research, is majoring in Biochemistry with an emphasis on Medicinal Chemistry at Arizona State University.

"As a cancer researcher and oncologist, I hope to benefit cancer patients in three ways," Niska said. "By conducting research in the laboratory, I will have the opportunity to discover new treatments and improve the standards of care. In the clinic, I will be able to provide novel treatments as part of clinical trials. Through teaching at the university/medical school level, I will be able to train the next generation of researchers who will make further advances."

Niska, who has interned at TGen since 2005, most recently worked in the lab of Dr. Heather Cunliffe, Head of TGen's Breast & Ovarian Cancer Research Unit. He has focused on development of a new diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for invasive breast cancer.

"This is fabulous news for Josh," Dr. Cunliffe said. "He has won several prestigious national awards while at TGen that will weigh heavily in his acceptance into a leading medical school. It has been my privilege to train some of the bright young minds of tomorrow. There is a tremendous need for additional biomedical research emphasis in clinical training to impact a revolution in health care."

Niska also has won the American Association for Cancer Research Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Award for Undergraduate Students (2008 and 2009), American Association for the Advancement of Science Travel Grant, and the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department Alpha Chi Sigma Merit Award.

Niska started at TGen with a voluntary summer internship in 2005, continued his project during his senior year of high school, and was again a summer intern in 2006. In 2007 he was a summer intern under the Helios Scholars Program at TGen, and in 2008 was a summer intern as a TGen Undergraduate Research Fellow (TURF). He was awarded research fellowships in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by the ASU School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research (SOLUR) program to continue his research training throughout the academic year.

"Josh's achievements are proof positive that internships are a vital component in fostering the next generation of scientists," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Research Director. "Appropriate mentorship, coupled with a great community partner such as the Helios Education Foundation, can produce a winning environment that allows students to gain valuable hands-on experience in the biomedical sciences."

In TGen's Breast & Ovarian Cancer Research Unit, Niska has gained experience in cell-based mechanistic perturbation technologies, molecular pathology and array-based gene expression profiling. His lab mentor has been Research Associate Amanda Willis. He also worked in a TGen lab where he received basic laboratory training and participated in a research project investigating mechanisms impacting brain tumor cell invasion.

Niska is one of 278 students nationwide awarded the Goldwater Scholarship for the 2009-10 academic year; one of six from Arizona, and one of three from Arizona State University.

Other recipients of Goldwater Scholarship who interned at TGen include:

-- Lara Cardy (2007-08) who worked in the Neurogenomics Division.

-- Eric Anderson (2006-07) who also works with Dr. Cunliffe.

-- Shannon Fortin (2005-06) who worked with Dr. Nhan Tran, Head of TGen’s Central Nervous System Tumor Research Lab. Fortin went on to win a Fulbright Scholarship.

-- Jared Niska (2003-04) who worked with Dr. Michael Berens, Director of TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division.

All attended ASU.

About the Goldwater Foundation
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence In Education Foundation is a federally endowed agency based in Springfield, Virginia, honoring the late Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater. It is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering, and it is considered the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. Since Congress established the program in 1986, the foundation has awarded 5,801 scholarships worth nearly $56 million. Trustees plan to award about 300 scholarships for the 2010–11 academic year.

About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a non-profit organization based in Phoenix, Ariz., 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. For more information, visit:

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France a Hub for Emerging Biotech Outsourcing Field

Information technology in India has become the quintessential example of outsourcing, but companies are emerging all over the world to handle specific tasks at lower costs and with higher expertise.

This phenomenon has manifested in the health care sector, and France is benefitting from its success as a destination for outsourcing in a specialized biotechnology field, said Michel Abiteboul.

Dr. Abiteboul, a medical doctor and an experienced businessman, manages the France activities of Quintiles Transnational Corp. He is considering attending the BIO 2009 International Convention, which will be held in Atlanta beginning May 18.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Generic Versions Of Biotechnology Drugs Allowed

Senate Measure Would Allow Generic Versions Of Biotechnology Drugs After Five Years

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Thursday (March 26, 2009) introduced legislation (S 726) that would allow FDA to approve generic versions of biotechnology drugs after a five-year period of brand-name patent exclusivity, the New York Times reports.

President Obama has emphasized the need for generic competition in the biotech industry and has estimated that it could save $9.2 billion over 10 years, which could be used to finance his health care reform plan. A similar bill passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last year would have given biotech products 12 years of exclusivity, but it died without being voted on by the full Senate.

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BIO’s Brent Erickson Appointed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Monday, March 30, 2009) - Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO) Industrial and Environmental Section, has been appointed to serve on the Advisory Committee to the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI).

The Energy Biosciences Institute (, a collaboration between the University of California Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Illinois, and BP, was established in 2007 with a 10-year, $500-million grant from BP. The mission of the institute is to harness advanced knowledge in biology, the physical sciences, engineering, and environmental and social sciences to devise viable solutions to global energy challenges and reduce the impact of fossil fuels to global warming. The EBI currently supports approximately 50 research projects, involving 120 faculty as well as 200 students and post-doctoral candidates.

The Science Advisory Committee is intended to provide strategic advice to the EBI Director and the Governing Board about goals and program implementation, the definition of mission, scope of the research, operational processes and scientific culture.

Brent Erickson joined BIO in 2000 as director of the Industrial and Environmental Section, where he spearheaded an effort to work with President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to include advanced biomass energy programs in the administration’s National Energy Plan. He was promoted to vice president in 2001 and executive vice president in 2005.

Erickson serves on the advisory board of the Northeast SunGrant Initiative and, since 2004, has been active in the Bioenergy/Agriculture Working Group of the Energy Future Coalition, an advocacy coalition funded by the United Nations Foundation. In 2005 he was named consulting editor of the journal Industrial Biotechnology.

The Advanced Biofuels & Climate Change Information Center presents the latest commentary and data on the environmental, greenhouse gas and other impacts of biofuel production. Drop in and add your comments, at

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Pathway to Biosimilars Act

Bipartisan Pathway to Biosimilars Act will lead to real solutions for our nation's health care challenges and provide real hope for patients.

H.R. 1548, the Pathway to Biosimilars Act, introduced by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Joe Barton (R-TX) lays out an effective, reasonable and safe pathway to biosimilars. It is the right medicine for lowering costs, ensuring patient safety and providing fair, responsible incentives for continued biotech research into cures for deadly and debilitating diseases.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"Amgen - The Biotech Leader"

Visiongain: World Largest Biotechnology Company "Amgen - The Biotech Leader - Market Analyses and Outlook, 2008-2023" Report

Mar 30, 2009 -- AMGN | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating -- In 2007, Amgen Inc - the world's largest biotechnology company - achieved total sales of $14.7m, despite a turbulent year marked by regulatory, pricing and reimbursement issues. Amgen has now firmly established itself as a Top-20 international pharmaceutical company. According to sales data for 2007, Amgen is also ranked as the 11th largest pharmaceutical company worldwide based on total sales value. This is a remarkable achievment for a biotechnology company founded in 1980.

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BIO International Convention

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) will be holding its annual BIO International Convention on May 18-21, 2009 in Atlanta, GA.

Founded in 1993, BIO is a nonprofit association seeking supportive biotechnology policies on behalf of more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, state and international affiliates, and related organizations, as well as providing business development services for many emerging biotech companies.

According to BIO, the BIO International Convention serves to educate the public and policymakers about biotechnology, while fostering partnering meetings and other business development activities to keep the biotech industry growing.

An event schedule for the Convention can be obtained here and descriptions of the breakout sessions can be obtained here. As part of the Convention, more than 2,200 biotech companies, organizations, and institutions will participate in the BIO Exhibition.

A list of exhibitors and an interactive floor plan can be found here. Information regarding registration and pricing can be obtained here. Patent Docs Kevin Noonan, Donald Zuhn, and Sherri Oslick will also be attending BIO as part of the MBHB contingent, and will be participating in BIO's blogger network throughout the week.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

California Stem Cell Program Needs a New Treatment

In the annals of wrongheaded things done with the best intentions, the California stem cell program has always been in a category of its own.

The $6-billion program was enacted by voters in 2004 as Proposition 71 after a campaign of exceptional intellectual dishonesty, featuring vignettes of sufferers from diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other heartbreaking diseases for which it seemed to promise imminent cures through research into embryonic stem cells.

As conceived by a Northern California real estate man named Robert Klein, who remains the program's chairman and guiding spirit, the idea was that California would fill the vacuum created by the Bush administration's ideology-inspired ban on federal funding for much of this research. (President Obama rescinded the ban this month.) The state, according to the hype, would reap billions in profits from the therapies it funded.


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Farm View: Nothing to Fear from Biotech

Do you have a fear of biotechnology? Well, you shouldn't have. Biotechnology is simply the use of gene science and technology to improve existing plants and animals.

Farmers have always used this type of selection process of choosing the best-suited and highest yielding crops to feed a growing population.

Biotech isn't going to change corn production so that the plant grows "arms" instead of "ears". This technology just helps plants deal with adverse conditions such as cold weather, droughts and naturally occurring pests and diseases.

The benefits are foods that stay fresher longer, taste better, and have more enhanced nutritional value. Since 1990, biotechnology has given us peanuts with a higher protein content, bananas and pineapples with a longer shelf life, sweeter bell peppers, tastier tomatoes and lower-fat vegetable oils.

Farmers have been growing genetically enhanced corn, soybeans and cotton crops that contain built-in pest resistance. This allows farmers to use fewer pesticides. Biotechnology has improved the quality and value of food from the producer's field to the consumer's table.

The percentage of biotech crops planted has been on the rise for many years. In 2006, according to the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, U.S. farmers planted biotech crops that produced an additional 7.7 billion pounds of food and fiber, increased farm income $2.6 billion, and reduced the use of pesticides by 110 million pounds. Just in Illinois, biotech corn and soybeans increased food production by more than 1.2 billion pounds, improved farm income by more than $326 million and annually reduces pesticide use by more than 12.5 million pounds.

Farm Bureau supports increased efforts through biotechnology to more rapidly develop products which have recognized consumer benefits. Some of these benefits include increased marketability of farm products, enhancing the environment and better product quality. Biotech also benefits worldwide consumers by ensuring a stable, ample, safe and nutritious supply of U.S. products.

While promoting the benefits of these products, Farm Bureau is also actively involved in educating producers to be good stewards of biotechnology. Farmers are encouraged to maintain the integrity of the U.S. food and grain supply by adhering to the regulations.

We support the coordinated analysis of biotechnology products by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) before they are approved for domestic use and commercialization.

Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States said, "Responsible biotechnology is not the problem, starvation is. Without adequate food supplies at affordable prices, we cannot expect world health or peace."

All methods of agriculture production and marketing should be supported provided all producers meet the required standards. Our organization supports efforts to establish specific standards for biotechnology enhanced and nonbiotechnology enhanced product certifications such as organically grown food.

The growth of the organic food and product markets provides new income potential for Illinois farmers of all sizes. The integrity of this program and process should be maintained.

Coming from the great state of Illinois, President Obama knows the importance of agriculture. He realizes that American agriculture helps feed the world while also playing an important part in international trade.

A few months ago, when he was still known as President-elect Obama, he named former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as the Secretary of Agriculture. At the news conference announcing the nomination, Obama said he nominated Vilsack to lead the USDA because of his record of promoting biotechnology to strengthen our farmers and foster an agricultural economy of the future that not only grows the food we eat but also the energy we use.

Biotechnology is change we can believe in.

David Treece is the manager of the Ford-Iroquois Farm Bureau. He can be reached at (815) 265-4712.

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Biotech Firm to Liquidate Under Investor’s Pressure

Avigen, a biotechnology company, is preparing to liquidate itself and return its remaining cash to shareholders. The company was pressed to do so by its largest holder, the Biotechnology Value Fund.

The company, whose most promising drug candidate failed in a clinical trial in October, is one of several biotech businesses thathave been under pressure from investors recently to liquidate after a setback.

In the past, when one of its drugs failed, a biotechnology company typically moved to a new drug. But with capital markets tight, investors are becoming less patient with that tradition and are trying to pull the plug on unsuccessful companies.

Avigen, based in Alameda, Calif., had been resisting the efforts of the Biotechnology Value Fund, which started a proxy fight to replace the company’s board. Read More

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Biotech Careers Heating Up

Biotechnology has been around for centuries. From farming to food production and storage, biotechnology has touched our lives in numerous helpful ways.

As baby boomers age, there has been an increased demand for new medical procedures and equipment. As a result, biomedical engineering, a field that combines medicine with engineering and biology, is expected to grow in the next decade and beyond.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cash-Strapped Biotechs May Follow Ventracor Failure

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- The failure last week of Ventracor Ltd., once the “darling” of Australia’s life-sciences industry, may herald more collapses as a global capital drought forces cash-starved companies to find partners or wind down.

Almost half the nation’s 130 publicly traded life-sciences companies risk insolvency in the next year, according to AusBiotech Ltd., a Melbourne-based industry group. Capital raised by listed biotechs plummeted to A$183 million ($129 million) in 2008 from A$943 million in 2007, the group has said.

Ventracor, a maker of heart pumps, is the third and biggest Australian life-sciences company to fail in the past six months as the credit crisis deprives research-based biotechnology companies of the cash they need to develop life-saving medicines and devices. Avexa Ltd., working on a drug to treat HIV, said it needs new capital to complete tests and is looking for partners.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Biotech Not Filling Property Void

Biotech and medical companies are supposed to be jewels of the Bay Area economy, but the economic malaise has tarnished the luster of those cutting edge industries, according to a new report.

Life science companies have scaled back their appetite to expand, or have even retrenched. A sluggish economy has combined with industry mergers such as Roche's proposed takeover of Genentech to produce a lot of uncertainties that loom over the industry.

The result: Vacancy rates have jumped for bioscience buildings, according to the report from Oakland-based market researcher Foresight Analytics LLC. These buildings are a commercial real estate subset of properties that have research, laboratory, clean rooms, offices or other facilities geared towards the biotech and medical devices industries.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

International Tissue-Repository Association President Selected

International tissue-repository association president selected to lead emergent Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG – March 25, 2009 - Officials of the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg (IBBL) today announced the selection of Dr. Robert Hewitt, president of an international association governing biological samples, as Chief Executive Officer.
As head of the IBBL, Hewitt will be in charge of a state-of-the-art tissue storage and distribution initiative that will help a worldwide network of cancer scientists and other disease researchers find answers to humanity’s most pressing health problems.

Dr. Jean-Claude Schmit, chairman of the seven-member governing board of the IBBL, said Hewitt was selected as CEO because of his impeccable credentials, his worldwide connections and his experience in setting up biobanks in other nations.

"Dr. Hewitt is internationally recognized as a leading scientist in biobanking," Schmit said, following the IBBL’s recent board meeting at the Phoenix, Arizona, USA headquarters of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). TGen is partnering with Luxembourg to help develop the IBBL, and TGen is part of the first demonstration project, Luxembourg Project Lung Cancer, in collaboration with the Partnership for Personalized Medicine.

Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen’s President and Scientific Director, said Hewitt was the obvious choice for the new position. "Dr. Hewitt brings energy and creativity to the IBBL. His reputation within the biobanking community is a strength that will help ensure the IBBL’s success through his leadership and his ability to foster collaborations on an international scale."

The IBBL is key to a multi-part strategy to make Luxembourg the center of excellence in health sciences and technologies of Europe.

"This is a project that puts us on the global map," said Schmit, who also is General Manager of Luxembourg’s Public Research Centre for Health (Centre de Recherche Public Sante). "The IBBL will allow us to have state-of-the-art samples for research. It is opening our country to international research. For TGen, it’s an opportunity to enter the European research market."

Patrizia Luchetta, the IBBL Project Manager and IBBL Board Vice-Chairman, also praised Hewitt’s dedication and experience.

"Dr. Hewitt stands out for his appreciation of the role of biobanks in biomedical research, and his deep understanding of what it takes to set up a state-of-the-art biobanking facility," said Luchetta, who also serves as Deputy Director of Luxembourg’s Board of Economic Development in the Ministry of the Economy and Foreign Trade.

Dr. Hewitt is president of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories. The ISBER aims to promote best practices in the management of biobanks, which store such items as therapeutic tissues, microbial culture collections, biodiversity samples and even museum collections.

"The IBBL is really vital to the development of personalized medicine," said Hewitt, referring to the process of quickly bringing new laboratory discoveries to the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

As part of an international partnership to spur discovery and innovation, Luxembourg last year enlisted the Phoenix-based Partnership for Personalized Medicine, which includes: TGen; Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute; and Seattle, Washington’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. A strategic partnership between Seattle’s Institute of Systems Biology and the University of Luxembourg constitutes the third pillar of Luxembourg's overall initiative in life sciences.

Hewitt has developed biobanks in England, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, where he is director of the Tissue Repository & Hospital-based Cancer Registry at the National University Hospital and National University of Singapore. The Tissue Repository provides researchers with samples of blood and tumor tissues collected only with patient consent.

"What I set up in Singapore is like a small scale model of what will be set up for Luxembourg," said Hewitt, who was educated in England and served a fellowship in the Laboratory of Pathology at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "The wonderful thing with the Luxembourg plan is that everything is funded."

Hewitt starts his new position on July 1. He eventually will supervise a staff of nearly 70 at the IBBL, which will include a biorepository, biorefinery, offices of administration and compliance, a technology center and an information-management center for maintaining and developing databases.

"One thing I’ve learned is the importance of winning the enthusiastic support of the many different groups of people who are vital to the biobanking process. These include patients and their communities as well as doctors, nurses, scientists and administrators. Only when all these groups are working together, can we be fully effective in building high quality biobanks to support advances in medical research," Hewitt said.


About the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL)
The Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg - co-founded by the nation’s three Public Research Centers Santé, Tudor and Lippmann, and by the University of Luxembourg – holds the promise of becoming the premier European hub for advanced biobanking, biotechnology and biomedical informatics. While most European and U.S. biobanks focus on collection and distribution of specimens, the IBBL will implement uniform standards for collection, storage and distribution of a full range of tissue samples, including blood, serum and tumor tissues. This next-generation biobank will provide molecular-based characterizations of biospecimens linked to clinical studies. The project will leverage expertise in biology, pathology, informatics and information technology infrastructure, laboratory operations, transportation, legal matters and ethics. The IBBL will serve as a centralized resource for sharing and comparing research results through a robust, scalable and secure bioinformatics system that supports the collection, processing, storage, annotation and distribution of biospecimens and data.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Honeywell Phoenix Tapped for Shire biotech Project

A Honeywell International Inc. unit in Phoenix is helping Shire Human Genetic Therapies expand its research and development capabilities.

Honeywell Process Solutions is working with the Shire PLC division to implement technology for controlling manufacturing processes at the company’s new $250 million production facility in Lexington, Mass.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Boger to Deliver Five Ventures Keynote

Joshua Boger, chief executive and founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., will be the keynote speaker at UNC Charlotte’s Five Ventures entrepreneurial business competition.

Boger, a native of Concord, is a biotechnology entrepreneur who has written more than 50 scientific publications. He holds 31 U.S. patents in pharmaceutical discovery and development, and has lectured in the United States, Europe and Asia on drug discovery and development.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Oncolytics Biotech(R) Inc. Announces Start of Enrollment

Oncolytics Biotech(R) Inc. Announces Start of Enrollment in U.S. Phase 2 Combination Clinical Trial for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients with K-RAS or EGFR-Activated Tumours

CALGARY, March 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - Oncolytics Biotech Inc. ("Oncolytics") announced today that it has started patient enrolment in a Phase 2 clinical trial using intravenous administration of REOLYSIN(R) in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with K-RAS or EGFR-activated tumours. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Miguel Villalona-Calero, Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Department of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"We are quite excited about this trial, since there are no known therapies that to date have effectively targeted K-RAS in cancer patients," said Dr. Villalona-Calero. "If this therapy works, this could substantially impact the outlook for our patients."

This trial (REO 016) is a single arm, single-stage, open-label, Phase 2 study of REOLYSIN(R) given intravenously with paclitaxel and carboplatin every 3 weeks. Patients will receive four to six cycles of paclitaxel and carboplatin in conjunction with REOLYSIN(R), at which time REOLYSIN(R) may be continued as a monotherapy. It is anticipated that up to 36 patients will be treated in this trial.

Eligible patients include those with metastatic or recurrent NSCLC with K-RAS or EGFR-activated tumours, who have not received chemotherapy treatment for their metastatic or recurrent disease. Patients must have demonstrated mutations in K-RAS or EGFR, or EGFR gene amplification in their tumours (metastatic or primary) in order to qualify for the trial.

About Oncolytics Biotech Inc.

Oncolytics is a Calgary-based biotechnology company focused on the development of oncolytic viruses as potential cancer therapeutics. Oncolytics' clinical program includes a variety of Phase I/II and Phase II human trials using REOLYSIN(R), its proprietary formulation of the human reovirus, alone and in combination with radiation or chemotherapy. For further information about Oncolytics, please visit

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Roche Increases Offer for Genentech

An article about Roche's offer to buy Genentech incorrectly attributed this quote: "Roche is going to get this deal done. That's what this move tells everyone. It should convince people that Roche is not going to walk away from this." The comment was made by Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Bret Holley.

Roche also extended its offer to shareholders by a week, until March 20. Genentech has already urged its shareholders to reject the $86.50-a-share bid, saying Genentech is worth $112 a share. Franz B. Humer, the chairman of Roche, said in an interview on Friday that the new offer was made to speed the process after conversations the company had with Genentech shareholders.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Roche Adds to Its Offer to Purchase Genentech

The Swiss drug giant Roche raised the price of its hostile offer to buy out the biotechnology company Genentech on Friday to $93 a share, from $86.50. Analysts said the new price was likely to entice many more Genentech shareholders to tender their shares.

Roche also extended its offer to shareholders by a week, until March 20. Genentech has already urged its shareholders to reject the $86.50-a-share bid, saying Genentech is worth $112 a share. Franz B. Humer, the chairman of Roche, said in an interview on Friday that the new offer was made to speed the process after conversations the company had with Genentech shareholders.

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Elton John to Speak at Biotech Conference

Elton John will deliver a keynote address at the BIO International Convention in Atlanta in May, industry officials announced Tuesday.

The singer and part-time Atlanta resident will speak about how biotechnology has affected prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and about future challenges related to the disease.

The annual biotech convention is expected to draw 20,000 people to the Georgia World Congress Center.

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US Lawmakers Propose Generic Biotech Drug Plan

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers unveiled a bipartisan proposal on Wednesday to allow government approval for cheaper copies of biotechnology medicines that cost as much as tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Representative Henry Waxman, joined by a Democratic colleague and two Republicans, said biotech drugs were the fastest-growing and most expensive part of the nation's prescription drug bill. Generic versions could provide safe alternatives while saving money for patients, employers, insurers and the federal government, the lawmakers said.

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Burke Leaving Biotech Center for Biofuels Center

W. Steven Burke, a longtime executive at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, is switching gears after nearly a quarter-century and moving full time into biofuels.

Burke, who has been with the Biotech Center since 1985 and has served since 1996 as its senior vice president for corporate affairs, will leave April 3 to become president of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina. He is currently that organization’s acting president.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trinity Biotech Announces Quarter 4 Results

Profit Before Tax Increases by 16% Excluding the Impact of Restructuring Expenses and Impairment

DUBLIN, IRELAND - Trinity Biotech plc (NASDAQ: TRIB), a leading developer and manufacturer of diagnostic products for the point-of-care and clinical laboratory markets, today announced results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2008.

Quarter 4 2008 Results

Revenues for quarter 4, 2008 amounted to US$34.0m compared to US$35.7m for quarter 4, 2007, a decrease of 4.8%. This included a decrease 5.1% in our Point of Care revenues and 4.7% in our Clinical Laboratory revenues. Compared to revenues of US$35.6m in quarter 3, 2008, revenues in quarter 4 have also fallen by approximately 4.4%. However, this fall is entirely attributable to currency movements.

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Biotech Company Metabolix Loss Widens

Metabolix Inc., which is developing biodegradable plastics from corn sugar, said Wednesday fourth quarter loss widened as revenue from licensing fees, royalties and grants fell.

The company reported a loss for the quarter ended Dec. 31 of $8.9 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with a loss of $7.2 million, or 33 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a loss of 40 cents a share.

Shares fell 2 cents to close at $6.31. They've traded in a 52-week range of $5.28 to $15.59.

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Maine's Jackson Laboratory Cuts 55 Jobs, Hours

The Jackson Laboratory, a biomedical research lab in Bar Harbor that breeds mice used in research, is eliminating about 55 jobs and cutting its workweek from 40 to 37 1/2 hours for 315 hourly employees because of the economic downturn.

Jackson Lab President Rick Woychik says the moves will keep the nonprofit on "solid financial footing."

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Safeway gives $685,000 to TGen for Breast Cancer Research

Arizona grocery chain increases contribution to TGen by 37 percent over 2008

PHOENIX, Ariz. - March 4, 2009 - Despite a down economy, Safeway Inc. presented a $685,236 check this week for breast cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Dan Valenzuela, President of Safeway's Phoenix Division, which includes 116 stores throughout Arizona, thanked the grocery chain's customers and employees for stepping up for scientific research.

Safeway presents a check for $685,236 to TGen for breast cancer research
From left are: Dr. Heather Cunliffe, a TGen breast cancer researcher; Dan Valenzuela, President of Safeway Inc.'s 116 Arizona stores; Cathy Kloos, Safeway's Phoenix Division Public Affairs Director; Erin Massey, TGen Foundation Director of Development; and Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation.

"We're very proud to donate to such an organization as TGen. I think everybody recognizes that, with the economy the way it is, it gets tougher to ask people for donations," Valenzuela told about 50 TGen employees gathered Tuesday for the announcement. "Because of your research, and the things that you do, we're honored to present you with a check."

Safeway's donation represents a 37 percent increase from the $500,000 the company gave TGen last year. The contributions both years were based on month-long campaigns at Arizona's Safeway stores in October 2007 and October 2008.

"You can't give enough credit to our customers and employees," Valenzuela said, adding that a major reason Safeway chose to support Phoenix-based TGen was that the research dollars would stay in Arizona.

"The benefit (of TGen's research) is far-reaching. The big thing is, where do the funds go? It (TGen) is local," Valenzuela said.

Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Scientific Director, said the significant and timely contribution by Safeway is an example of the generosity repeatedly shown by local businesses and the people of Arizona.

"This donation will be put to immediate use to help develop treatments and, eventually, find a cure for breast cancer, a major priority for us at TGen and a goal that would benefit everyone," Dr. Trent said.

Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation, the fundraising arm of the non-profit biomedical research institute, described Safeway's contribution as a special tribute to TGen researchers as they work to conquer cancer and other debilitating diseases.

"Contributors are looking hard at their charitable opportunities and are looking for the organizations that are run efficiently and produce results," Bassoff said. "But today's donation by Safeway is a tribute to you, the work you do in the laboratories, and the many Arizonans who came forward to support TGen," Bassoff told the assembled TGen employees.

Dr. Heather Cunliffe, a TGen breast cancer researcher, said Safeway's donation would help accelerate work towards new treatments for breast cancer patients.

Bassoff also credited the "extra gumption" and hard work of Safeway employees who were willing to ask customers if they would contribute to breast cancer research.

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. For more information, visit:

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Alan C. Nelson, PhD Appointed Director of Biodesign Institute

Pioneering Scientist Joins Biodesign Team

Arizona State University has appointed pioneering scientist and entrepreneur Alan C. Nelson, PhD, as director of the Biodesign Institute. Dr. Nelson’s medical innovations include a landmark technology introduced in 1995 that made a dramatic improvement in the detection of cervical cancer. He is currently President and CEO of VisionGate, Inc. in Washington State, which has developed a screening test for lung cancer.

Last year, the Biodesign Institute generated more than $60 million in external funding and disclosed 50 new inventions, and Dr. Nelson’s appointment will enable the Biodesign Institute to continue this positive trajectory. “These tight economic times make it more important than ever for us to preserve and diversify programs that have a proven ability to generate revenue and that ultimately will have a profound benefit to society,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Dr. Nelson succeeds Dr. George Poste, who, last summer, was tapped to head ASU’s new Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative. In addition to leading the Biodesign Institute, he will have an academic appointment as professor of bioengineering in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Arizona Twitter Users - Twitter Arizona

Arizona Twitter Users

Twitter Arizona

Below is a list of hundreds users of who might somehow be related to Arizona (according to Google this is all there are.) I'm sure I left a lot of really good friends off the list. Please help me fix that.

If you don't want to be on the list, please let me know. If you do what to be on the list let me know as well by email to Bill Austin.

If you are looking to follow Arizona Tweeters (Twitter users) there is a long list below and links will open in another window.

Be sure to start by adding

Bill Austin

Bill Austin (East Valley Living)

and Kathee Austin

PS: This list is based on Google randomly deciding who is in Arizona so if you are not, please accept our apologies. Also, as you are looking at people and deciding whether to follow them, be sure to check the profile carefully since the users here might not be from Arizona, might not be active (e.g. last update 13 months ago or never) might not actually be the person or organization indicated and a few might not even be a person or organization that you want to be associated with. As I find my closest twitter friends I will be moving them up on the list.

Thank you,


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