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BioRegion Real Estate: Aug 7, 2009


Genentech Eyes 25 More San Diego Jobs at Oceanside Plant, as Avastin Demand Grows

Genentech will not only keep its Oceanside plant, and the plant's 480 jobs, in San Diego, but add 25 new jobs to the facility as part of Roche's reorganization following its $47 billion acquisition of the biotech giant, completed earlier this year — though the plant has changed general managers, the San Diego Business Journal reported.

The 500,000-square-foot plant is responsible for producing batches of Genentech’s best-selling cancer drug Avastin, which generated $2.7 billion in US sales last year.

Genentech spokeswoman Caroline Pecquet told the Business Journal that the new Genentech — the name under which Roche will now operate in the US — plans to hire about 25 workers in Oceanside during the next year “in order to keep up with the product manufacturing increase.”

“All of Genentech’s current manufacturing facilities will continue to play an important role in the global manufacturing network," Pecquet told the newspaper.

Jane McVey, economic development director for the city of Oceanside, told the Business Journal that Genentech can expand within its corridors, since it doesn’t occupy all of the space it’s entitled to — about 1.37 million square feet.

Larry Sanders, previously senior director of Genentech’s South San Francisco manufacturing operations, has been named head of Oceanside product operations, succeeding Gary Harbour, who is leaving Genentech on Sept. 30.

A Year After Being Earmarked Into Mass. Life-Sci Act, Pittsfield Bio Incubator Funding Blocked by Mix-Up

More than a year after funding for a $6.5 million biotech incubator for the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield, Mass., was earmarked into the $1 billion Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, the agency that oversees the park remains unable to collect the funding.

Pittsfield (Mass.) Economic Development Authority cannot receive the funding until it submits a detailed proposal to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center for the incubator building, Susan Windham-Bannister, the MLSC's president and CEO, told the Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield.

"We have not had a conversation with them [PEDA] yet, which says to me that they're not quite ready to go," she said, adding: "A lot of projects have not approached the center yet."

The center's spokesman, Angus McQuilken, told the newspaper that earmark recipients must submit a second detailed proposal to the Life Sciences Center so it can determine which projects are considered shovel-ready: "First you need to submit the project to the Legislature," McQuilken said Friday. "The next step is to submit detailed information to the center so that we can vet it and evaluate it."

However PEDA's interim executive director, William Hines Sr., told the newspaper that he was confused about the center's stance, since PEDA had submitted detailed architectural drawings of the incubator building to the state Legislature in order to obtain the earmark on the bill.

The incubator is among $500 million in capital projects over the next 10 years for which funds were earmarked in the life-sci act.

Created in 2006 by then-governor Mitt Romney and expanded last year by his successor, Gov. Deval Patrick, the center oversees the spending of the life-sci act's billion dollars. The center has spent $48.5 million in public funds in a variety of projects during fiscal 2009, which attracted $359 million in private investment and created 950 jobs. In fiscal 2010, the center plans to award $25 million in tax incentives, but additional funding has yet to be determined.

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Windham-Bannister told the Eagle her agency wants to assist life-sci projects in Pittsfield and Berkshire County, since its open spaces, natural resources and skilled workforce, along with the presence of Berkshire Medical Center, make the area attractive to the biotechnology industry.

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) defended the life-sci center, telling the Eagle: "I think the Life Sciences Center is trying to be cautious and prudent with taxpayer dollars" — especially because investors are more willing to purchase bonds to finance roads and schools, than to finance economic development projects during the ongoing economic upheaval.

PEDA was formed in 1998 to develop the 52-acre business park, which has remained vacant.

Dow AgroSciences to Break Ground Aug. 17 on 80K Sq. Ft. R&D Building in Indianapolis

Dow AgroSciences plans to break ground Aug. 17 on an 80,000-square-foot research-and-development building to rise next to its Indianapolis headquarters, on the Northwest Technology campus of Browning Investments.

Browning will serve as the developer, owner and general contractor of the two-story building, which will house laboratories and offices for approximately 100 researchers. The facility is expected to be completed in mid 2010.

The facility's leased space will house existing employees as well as those added in the future according to the company’s long-term strategic workforce plan. Key areas of recruiting are focused on science and technology positions.

“This expansion will enable us to accelerate investment in new scientific expertise, capabilities, and markets for our growing seeds, traits and oils business," Daniel Kittle, vice president of research and development at Dow AgroSciences, said in a statement.

Dow AgroSciences will occupy the facility under a 15-year lease with Browning announced last month.

NeuroScience Associates Expects to Quadruple Throughput Capacity with New Neurohistology Lab

NeuroScience Associates, a Knoxville, Tenn., provider of mass-production neurohistology services, has opened a new laboratory projected to quadruple its throughput capacity for brain and spinal cord histology used in medical/scientific research and development.

Bob Switzer, founder and president of NSA, said in a statement the new lab will allow it to handle increased demand for service as life-sci companies cut back on operations: “Today’s economic downturn is creating unfortunate bottlenecks and budget constraints for many pharmaceutical and research companies. Many of these organizations, in addition to our longstanding clients, are outsourcing all or part of their neurohistology needs to us."

NSA’s MultiBrain technology allows for the simultaneous staining of thousands of sections, many more than conventional staining protocols, at up to one-eighth the expense of those methods, according to the company. As a result, NSA said, it can produce finished slides from the brains and/or spinal cords of hundreds of test animals in as little as three weeks per project.

The company said its neurohistology work has supported key research for solutions to ailments that include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, stroke, and neurotoxicity.

The Scan

Not Immediately Told

The US National Institutes of Health tells lawmakers that one of its grantees did not immediately report that it had developed a more infectious coronavirus, Science says.

Seems Effective in Kids

The Associated Press reports that the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children appears to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic disease.

Intelligence Warning on Bioeconomy Threats

US intelligence warns over China's focus on technologies and data related to the bioeconomy, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Campylobacteriosis Sources, Inherited Retinal Dystrophies, Liver Cancer Prognosis

In PLOS this week: approach to uncover source of Campylobacteriosis, genetic risk factors for inherited retinal dystrophies, and more.