Friday, July 20, 2012

Biotech Day: Friday's national biotech news

From the 40 business journals of American City Business Journals …

'Biohackers' go solo in quest to find cures (San Francisco Business Times)

Ryan Bethencourt is hacking his way toward saving lives. Working one day a week on shared lab equipment snatched up for pennies on the dollar, Bethencourt and a growing wave of do-it-yourself biotechnologists, or “biohackers,” are zeroing in on some of life sciences’ thorniest questions from the cozy confines of their kitchen tables, hallway closets or hand-me-down lab benches. (San Francisco Business Times subscription required.)

'Supertemps' reshaping biotech workforce (Boston Business Journal)
Local life sciences companies are increasingly hiring workers — often those with high-level expertise — on a temporary, rather than a permanent, basis. (Boston Business Journal subscription required.)

Vertex and city celebrate topping off at Fan Pier (Boston Business Journal)
Developer Joseph Fallon, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and a crowd of construction workers watched as the final beam for the first of two Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX) office towers on Fan Pier was hoisted to the top of the 18-story building on Thursday. Work on the 1.1 million square foot global headquarters for Vertex is expected to be completed late next year.

Couple buys drug candidate, raising $25M betting it works (Triangle Business Journal)

The leaders of Sprout Pharmaceuticals are banking $25 million on a drug aimed at treating sexual dysfunction in women, even though federal regulators did not approve the medication when it was held by another company. The husband-wife team of Cindy Whitehead and Bob Whitehead bought the drug, called flibanserin, for an undisclosed sum in 2011. Flibanserin was available when Raleigh-based Slate Pharmaceuticals, which Bob Whitehead helmed at the time, was sold to Lake Forest, Ill.-based Actient Pharmaceuticals. (Triangle Business Journal subscription required.)

Seed firms sprouting around UC Davis (Sacramento Business Journal)

A year-old nonprofit is aiming to transform the Sacramento region into the Silicon Valley of seed science and technology. At least 50 seed and seed-related companies already have set down roots in the region, so now it’s a matter of getting those companies to “behave like they are in a cluster,” said François Korn, one of Seed Central’s founders. “It’s all about energizing the seed cluster.” And developing a significant economic engine for the region. (Sacramento Business Journal subscription required.)

Medtech startups increasing in Sacramento region (Sacramento Business Journal)

Industry insiders say the region’s small medical technology cluster is on its way to becoming an important part of the economy. They point to a growing base of companies and industry partnerships with theUniversity of California Davis as key drivers of the region’s med-tech sector. (Sacramento Business Journal subscription required.)

Human Genome Sciences' sale to GlaxoSmithKline: What it means for the D.C. area (Washington Business Journal)

After an ugly, feuding courtship, Human Genome Sciences Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC are finally tying the knot. The two drugmakers announced July 16 the consummation of a takeover process that officially began in April, when London-based Glaxo first offered to buy its partner of two decades for $3.6 billion, a deal Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences declined as too cheap. (Washington Business Journal subscription required.)
Whopper deal more of a whimper (Washington Business Journal)
A company’s multibillion-dollar sale is normally the apex of its journey, the peak of its existence. But I gotta tell you, this one’s a bit anticlimactic. (Washington Business Journal subscription required.)

Colorado’s bioscience industry expects good things from reforms of U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations signed into law July 13. Passage of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act capped more than 18 months of work by Denver-area executives and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., to pass the bill. The industry supports the reforms even though they result in large FDA fee increases. (Denver Business Journal subscription required.)
Medical device makers brace for excise tax (Memphis Business Journal)
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Healthcare Act was constitutional in late June, device and pharmaceutical companies began looking at the calendar. The reason? On Jan. 1, 2013, the 2.3 percent excise tax on device and drug manufacturers such as Pfizer Inc., Medtronic Inc., Wright Medical Group Inc. and Smith & Nephew Inc. is scheduled to take effect. (Memphis Business Journal subscription required.)
Drug companies ask for non-core trials to be conducted by contract research organizations at a cost of as much as $5 billion per year, a factor that drives up the ultimate cost of developing new drugs, concludes a new study. While that’s bad news for patients and further contributes to rising health care costs, it can be taken as good news for the Triangle, where CROs employ more than 10,000 workers. (Triangle Business Journal subscription required)

Shower Shirt's sales volume nearly triples (Orlando Business Journal)

In 2009, Lisa Crites was standing in the shower after a double breast mastectomy with a white plastic trash bag with cut-out arm holes draped over her to keep her surgical site dry, when the idea hit: This could be fixed. Five prototypes and a year later, Crites formed The Shower Shirt Co. LLC and invented the Shower Shirt. The $85 waterproof, turtle neck-style jacket allows a patient to shower after a mastectomy and keep the site dry, replacing the old methods of using a plastic bag or Saran wrap. “It’s comical now,” Crites said, looking back. (Orlando Business Journal subscription required.)

Mobile heart monitor doesn't skip a beat (San Francisco Business Times)
San Francisco-based AliveCor’s new iPhone electrocardiogram isn’t on the market yet, but it may have already saved a life. (San Francisco Business Times subscription required.)

Executive Profile: Astex Pharmaceutical CEO James Manuso (San Francisco Business Times)
Manuso, a self-described “Euro mutt,” joined SuperGen Inc. as a director in 2001 and became chairman and CEO of Astex Pharma after SuperGen’s acquisition last summer of Astex Therapeutics Ltd. in the U.K. The 140-employee company has three cancer drugs in mid-stage clinical trials, but the FDA in March rejected expanding its blood cancer drug Dacogen to elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Manuso’s eclectic career has taken him from counseling heroin addicts in Bedford-Stuyvesant, part of his domestic service as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, to buying, fixing up and selling Manhattan properties. (San Francisco Business Times subscription required.)

Wake Forest Nano Center digging deeper to boost startups (The Business Journal)
Seeking to boost the pace of commercialization coming out of his labs at Wake Forest University, the director of the school’s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials has set up a partnership with an outside firm designed to mine early-stage research looking for potential money-makers. (The Business Journal subscription required.)

Drug maker donating to Franklin Institute brain exhibit (Philadelphia Business Journal)
Pharmaceutical giant Teva will donate $2.5 million toward the Franklin Institute’s fundraising campaign. The money will be put toward the museum’s planned “Your Brain” exhibit, which will explore neuroscience and the human brain.

Up close: Roger Cubicciotti (The Business Journal)
Roger Cubicciotti has lived and worked in biotech hotspots all over the country, but he chose the Piedmont Triad Research Park when it came time to settle his company, NanoMedica. Since arriving in 2010, Cubicciotti has also thrown his efforts behind building up fellow entrepreneurs and helping to organize the all-volunteer support group VentuRealization. (The Business Journal subscription required.)

Targacept exec to head biotech committee (The Business Journal)
Karen Hicks, the vice president of human resources at drug discovery firm Targacept, will chair the 24-member Advisory Committee for Biotechnology, under the auspices of N.C. Biotechnology Center.

Anthera seeks $33 million from stock offering (San Francisco Business Times)
Anthera Pharmaceuticals Inc. will use $33 million from the sale of 33 million shares for general corporate purposes, the company said Thursday.

CTRC tapped for clinical trial of ovarian cancer drug (San Antonio Business Journal)
Viral Genetics has selected the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center to conduct a Phase I clinical trial for an investigational ovarian cancer drug.

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