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Fire Relief Biotech Immediate Response Fund, Fire Relief Biotech Recovery Fund, Scottish Enterprise, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Connecticut Innovations, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Delaware Crossing Inves

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Two New Funds Created to Aid Biotech Community After California Wildfires
 
Invitrogen and Biocom, the San Diego region’s life sciences industry group, have joined to establish two funds to be administered through the San Diego Foundation following last week’s spate of wildfires that destroyed 2,000 homes, caused $1 billion in damage, and forced the evacuation of more than 350,000 southern California residents.
 
The Fire Relief Biotech Immediate Response Fund will provide grants to nonprofit organizations that are providing immediate relief to residents affected by the wildfires, while the Fire Relief Biotech Recovery Fund was established to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that will work in the years ahead to help with rebuilding efforts. was established to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that will work in the years ahead to help with rebuilding efforts.
 
Grants from both funds will be made at the recommendation of the San Diego Regional Disaster Fund Board, a community-based board composed of volunteers from the region with experience in determining the community’s greatest needs, as well as in designing and implementing strategies to make the best use of donated dollars. The funds will be overseen by the San Diego Foundation, which since 1975 has managed and distributed funds to support organizations within the region.
 
To make donations to the biotech funds or other fire-related funds, visit the foundation’s After-the-Fires Fund 2007 web page at http://www.sdfoundation.org/fire2007/.
 
“The burden of the past few days will linger long after the last ember is extinguished,” Biocom said in a statement on its website.
 

 
Scottish Enterprise Says Deal Near With Alexandria for Edinburgh Biotech Park
 
ST. LOUIS — Scottish Enterprise and Alexandria Real Estate Equities are weeks away from signing an agreement allowing the publicly traded real estate investment trust to proceed with development of Edinburgh BioQuarter, formerly the Center for Biomedical Research.
 
The development agreement was expected to have been completed earlier this year, but was delayed after the shaky global investment market of the summer and early fall prompted Alexandria to hold off on developing the project immediately.
 
“The deal is close to signing but it hasn’t been signed . . . We anticipate it will be in the next couple of weeks,” David Littlejohn, director of global connections with Scottish Enterprise, told BioRegion News during an Oct. 25 interview at the Chase Park Plaza hotel, where he was attending the 2007 Annual Conference of the Association of University Research Parks.
 
Scottish Enterprise and Alexandria will break ground early next year on the project’s first phase, a 30,000-square-foot, primarily R&D building for multiple tenants, to be built near the 870-bed Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. When completed, Edinburgh BioQuarter will be a 100-acre life sciences campus consisting of 1.4 million square feet of new life science space – 900,000 square feet of commercial space, the rest academic and institutional.
 
Overall cost of developing the 1.4 million square feet is projected at £600 million ($1.24 billion). SE and Alexandria will work in partnership with the National Health Service, the University of Edinburgh, and SE’s overseas unit Scottish Development International.
 
The deal involves hammering out a partnership between SE and Alexandria, as well as the university and NHS. One element of the deal, Littlejohn said, will be a long-term ground lease giving Alexandria control of land to be conveyed by SE: “The basis of the deal has to be finalized, and that’s just being done now.”
 
Scottish Enterprise and Alexandria announced the deal in May during the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2007 BIO International Convention held in Boston [BioRegion News, May 14].
 

 
Mass. Life Sciences Center Approves $20M for Research Grants, Stem Cell Bank
 
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center has approved more than $20 million in funds for three initiatives, and announced plans to hire a health care industry policy veteran as its new director.
 
The board of the state's quasi-public life sciences agency approved $12 million in research grants; $7.7 million toward a year’s expenses in establishing a stem-cell bank at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester; and $570,000 to establish a web-based, searchable library listing of available stem cell lines for researchers, State House News Service reported on Oct. 25.
 
The board also allowed its chairman Daniel O'Connell, secretary of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, to hire Melissa Walsh as the center's new chief of staff. Walsh is an associate at Partners HealthCare, a Boston-based integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
 
Walsh will run the center while the board conducts a national search for a new executive director. That person will succeed an appointee of former governor Mitt Romney, Aaron D'Elia, who resigned under pressure last June after drawing fire from life sciences leaders for lacking experience in the industry. The board has hired Russell Reynolds Associates to conduct the search.
 

 
Yale Licensee Wins Pre-Seed Support from Connecticut Innovations for Business Plan
 
Helix Therapeutics, a Cheshire Conn., biotech focused on therapeutics for HIV/AIDS and genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, will receive an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Connecticut Innovations, the quasi-public authority announced.
 
CI said the company will use the funding to develop a business plan detailing its startup and growth strategies by commercializing on the company’s technologies. The company is the excusive worldwide licensee of a technology — developed at Yale University School of Medicine – that uses patented oligonucleotides that bind to the human genome, resulting in permanent, targeted gene modification.
 
Helix is the second company to receive assistance through the pre-seed support program.
 

 
Medical Device Maker Receives $15,000 from Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse
 
The public-private Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse has invested $15,000 in Innovention Technologies, a developmental-stage medical device company looking to commercialize a maneuverable surgical probe usable for minimally invasive surgeries. Innovention’s first product is HARP, an acronym for “highly-articulated robotic probe.”
 
Innovention is a spin-out from Carnegie Mellon University led by an interdisciplinary team of professionals with backgrounds in robotics, robotic surgery, and minimally-invasive cardiac surgery.
 
PLSG invests in biosciences companies in southwestern Pennsylvania.
 

 
Regional Angel Investor Group Invests $300,000 in Ann Arbor, Mich., Biotech Startup
 
Delaware Crossing Investor Group, an angel investor group focusing on startups in the Philadelphia and Princeton, NJ, regions, has invested $300,000 in SensiGen, a developer of a gene-based molecular diagnostic technology with facilities in Philadelphia and Ann Arbor, Mich. SensiGen will use the capital to accelerate development and commercialization of its AttoSense technology.
 
To date, SensiGen has raised nearly $3.5 million in investments from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the management team, and a variety of angel investors in addition to the angel capital from Delaware Crossing.
 

 
Qatar Studying Feasibility of Developing Mideast’s Largest Biotechnology Center
 
Qatar is looking to build the Middle East’s largest biotechnology center, the Qatar Journal reported earlier this month.
 
Qatari officials have awarded a contract to a Sri Lankan company, Serendib Horticulture, to study the feasibility of the biotech center — which would focus on genetic engineering and molecular biology research — as well as the potential to commercialize such research, capacity building, genetically modified organisms and related issues, and biosafety framework recommendations.
 
The consultancy team will include scientists from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, Michigan State University, Northern Iowa State University and Serendib's own staff. The study will commence in November and is set to be completed in six months.
 

 
Two Georgia Research Alliance Programs Earn National Tech-Based Development Awards
 
Two programs of the Georgia Research Alliance have earned Excellence in Technology-Based Economic Development awards from the State Science and Technology Institute The awards are designed to celebrate exceptional achievement in technology-based economic development.
 
Recognized was the alliance’s VentureLab program, which awards seed grants to universities and early-stage companies to accelerate the spinoff of university research into companies. The program currently operates at five of GRA’s partner universities.
 
Since its launch in 2002, GRA investment in VentureLab grants through 2006 totaled $6.5 million, with 73 discoveries/technologies funded and 52 companies formed, including Asankya, Jacket Micro Devices, Orthonics, and Vivonetics.
 
Also honored was the alliance’s Eminent Scholars program, designed to attract top scholars to the state’s six research universities, with research commercialization in mind. To date, the program has recruited 57 Eminent Scholars to GRA’s university partners. These Eminent Scholars have attracted more than $350 million in federal, foundation and corporate research funding, fostered and led 20 centers of research excellence, and spun out more than 20 new technology startups – including biotechnology, advanced communications and computing businesses. 
 
The alliance is a public-private group intended to unite the state’s academic, business and government sectors in support of research commercialization efforts throughout Georgia.
 

 
NeoStem Announces Opening of Adult Stem Cell Collection Center in Las Vegas
 
New York-based NeoStem announced earlier this month it has opened an adult stem cell collection facility in Las Vegas, part of the company’s business strategy of establishing a nationwide network of such facilities.
 
Fifteen days after its Oct. 10 announcement, NeoStem issued a second press release in which chairman and CEO Robin Smith called Las Vegas “an excellent business hub for healthcare companies to consider.”
 
Smith also cited the NeoStem facility’s proximity to the Nevada Cancer Institute and the Nevada Neurosciences Institute, as well as plans by University of Nevada Las Vegas for a Harry Reid Research & Technology Park to develop more than 3 million square feet of office and research space, as well as wet and dry laboratories, on 115 acres: “The planning process is underway and it is anticipated that construction will begin as early as 2008,” according to the technology park’s website.
 

 
Nevada Cancer Institute Breaks Ground on Second Building; Raising Funds for a Third
 
Nevada Cancer Institute has broken ground on a second building focused on support services, and announced that it is actively pursuing financial support for a third research-exclusive building.
 
The support services complex will be 101,000-square-foot building with an adjacent parking garage on 3.25 adjacent acres. The new building will house a number of services and functions, including a 200-seat conference center, offices, clinical trials office, cancer registry, dry labs and a medical education library.
 
The new building will mirror the innovative architecture of its current facility and is scheduled for completion in late 2008 or early 2009. The Korte Company is the general contractor for the project’s developer, the American Nevada Company, which will build the support services building, then lease it to NVCI. The institute will lease space on the top two floors, with the ultimate goal of purchasing the building when funds become available.
 
NVCI proceeded with the support building after reaching 90 percent occupancy at the 142,000-square-foot One Breakthrough Way at the end of the summer. The institute’s administrative offices at 10000 W. Charleston Blvd. is fully occupied.
 
Since One Breakthrough Way’s opening in September 2005, patient visits to NVCI have surpassed 125,000, the institute said.
 
During the groundbreaking ceremony, NVCI announced its goal of building a third building that would exclusively house research activities.
 
“There is so much more that we hope to do. Our goal is to recruit more physician-scientists, develop more area of expertise and bring more cutting-edge technology to the state,” said Heather Murren, NVCI co-founder and chief executive officer, in an Oct. 25 press release.
 

 
Kentucky EDFA Gives Biotech Company Preliminary Approval for Tax Incentives  
 
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has given preliminary approval to $8 million in tax incentives made possible through a new alternative energy incentives law to Alltech, a Nicholasville, Ky.-based bioenergy company, Business First of Louisville reported earlier this month.
 
Alltech plans to build a $40 million biorefinery in Springfield, Ky., intended to produce 10 million gallons of ethanol annually. The biorefinery would create 93 jobs.
 

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