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Around the Regions: Dec 15, 2008

Maryland Advisory Committee To Release Life Science Strategy Report in Early 2009
The Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Committee, a 15-member panel appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley to develop strategies for growing the state’s life-sci industry, will not be releasing its final report detailing those ideas until early in the new year, BioRegion News has learned.
A strategic plan had been set for release Dec. 15 following the advisory committee’s final meeting in October — in which a consultant recommended the state attract companies focused on biopharmaceuticals, contract bioscience research services, molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine, biodefense and emerging infectious diseases, and “bio-based” products such as biofuels. [BRN, Nov. 3].
Instead, the plan is now expected to be released some time in January. The delay will allow committee members to mesh their strategies with those being developed by state officials as part of O’Malley’s Bio 2020 initiative.
Bio 2020 is a $1.1 billion, 10-year package of economic subsidies and other tax incentives to be anchored on a $91.5 million new Maryland Biotechnology Center that would serve as a proverbial “one-stop shop” or single agency for life sciences companies seeking to relocate to Maryland or expand within the state [BRN, June 23].
“We are still in the process of putting a few more details together for the Bio 2020 and since that is a significant initiative, it was decided to put out the plan to coincide with some Bio 2020 announcements, like locations of the Maryland Biotech Center,” Karen Glenn Hood, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business Development, told BRN via e-mail last week.
She said the committee would release this week — on the “meeting schedule and relevant documents” section of its web page — an annual report summarizing its activity during 2008, in a format similar to the report it produced to recap what it did last year, available here.
O’Malley created the advisory panel early in 2007, with the key goal of mapping a strategy to catapult Maryland’s nationally known life sciences effort into the elite tier more commonly associated with California and Massachusetts [GenomeWeb Daily News, April 3, 2007]. The governor is a Democrat who unseated his Republican predecessor in 2006, in part on the promise of stepping up funding for the state’s life-sciences sector.

Report: Colorado to Shed 4,000 Jobs in 2009, But Fitzsimons Biocampus is Bright Spot
The University of Colorado, Boulder’s Leeds School of Business last week released its outlook for Colorado’s economy in 2009.
The report, Colorado Business Economic Outlook, forecasts that the state will lose a net of approximately 4,000 jobs in 2009 — a loss of around 9,200 workers in the goods-producing sector, countered by the addition of around 4,900 jobs in service-producing sectors.
The report projects that the unemployment rate will rise to 6.4 percent in 2009 from 4.2 percent in 2008, though it notes that this is below the national level, which is projected to be in the range of 7.5 percent to 8 percent.
The report notes that “bioscience is a key industry in Colorado,” though it does not provide any bioscience-specific employment projections.
The transformation of the former Fitzsimons Army Medical into a biotech campus is cited in the report as “a vital stimulus to the Colorado economy. The redevelopment of the 578-acre site, located in Aurora, broke ground in 1998. The 20-year project has a budget of more than $5 billion and will house the Fitzsimons Life Sciences District and University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, which includes the University of Colorado Denver’s Health Sciences schools and the University of Colorado Hospital; the Children’s Hospital; a proposed Veterans Affairs Hospital; and additional services and amenities to support the life-science community.
The report notes that the projected economic impact for the project in 2008, excluding
construction workers, includes approximately 16,000 jobs at Fitzsimons/Anschutz, with the “majority” of these jobs in healthcare delivery and education. Economic activities at Fitzsimons/Anschutz in 2008 support 20,100 other jobs throughout Colorado, yielding a total of 36,100 positions.
Following the relocation of the VA Hospital, expected growth in healthcare service delivery at the University of Colorado Hospital and the Children’s Hospital, and development in the Life Sciences District, a total of 20,200 jobs will be based at Fitzsimons/Anschutz in 2013, supporting 24,300 additional jobs in Colorado, according to the report.
These jobs will provide an estimated $1.8 billion in personal income and generate $4.5 billion in total economic output annually.
It is projected that at full development, Fitzsimons/Anschutz will host 43,500 jobs with combined annual expenditures of $6.7 billion.

Mass. South Coast Region Eyes Biotech Funding
Politicians and business advocates in Massachusetts’ South Coast region, which includes the cities of Fall River and New Bedford, met with state officials last week to discuss the region’s interest in competing for funding under the state’s $1 billion biotech spending initiative, according to local news reports.
At an event held at the Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center in Fall River, local officials told representatives from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council, and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center that the region suffers from high unemployment and deserves assistance, Mass High Tech reported.
“We have a lot of available land, at a much lower cost than inside of Route 495,” said Mass. State Rep. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), a participant in the event, the paper reported.
“I think it makes sense for the commonwealth to insure there are investments in biotechnology statewide, particularly in the older urban areas, such as Fall River and Brockton and Springfield,” said Ken Fiola, executive vice president of the Fall River Office of Economic Development, according to the report.
Fall River houses the 300-acre SouthCoast BioPark, which is expected to be available for tenants in early 2009. “In addition to having appropriate zoning, infrastructure capacity, and affordable land and housing prices, we believe that the site and region affords the biotech and life science cluster the ability to control their destiny with regard to current and future build-out plans in an area that makes economic sense,” Fiola said.
Melissa Walsh, COO of the MLSC, the agency responsible for disbursing the $1 billion available under the Life Sciences, said that $5 million has already been allocated for a regional incubation center for life science in New Bedford, which will be run by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and Bristol Community College.
According to the Fall River Herald News, Luis Barros, senior vice president for industry investment and development at MLSC said that the agency is “looking at the South Coast for biotech development” because the area offers lower wages and real estate costs than the Boston/Cambridge area.
“The proposals we have seen have been very geographically diverse,” he added. “There is a migration away from the Boston/Cambridge area to Western Massachusetts, Fall River, and New Bedford.”

Maryland’s Washington County Sees Potential for Biotech Growth
A report from Hagerstown Community College in Maryland’s Washington County has identified biotechnology as a key economic growth driver for the region, according to Hagerstown’s Herald-Mail.
The report “presents the case for Washington County embracing a unique and timely set of opportunities that would greatly assist in making high skill/high wage bioscience or biotechnology employment a significant part of the local economy,” HCC President Guy Altieri noted in the report, the paper said.
The report cited several factors that are likely to attract biotech firms to the region, including Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to spend $1.1 billion on Maryland’s bioscience industry over the next 10 years; interest from officials in Frederick County, Md., “to build economic and educational bridges to Washington County;” and the possibility that the I-270 Technology Corridor “could extend west along Interstate 70 into Washington County as suburban land becomes more expensive.”
“Taken together, these developments point to the potential for bioscience business development in Washington County that would enable the county to capitalize on its existing assets,” the report said.
HCC has started offering a degree in biotechnology and plans to build a 65,000-square-foot Science Building with 14 laboratories. The report called for the region to build an accelerator to foster budding biotech businesses.

Hyalose Awarded $1.23M Grant To Build Oklahoma City Manufacturing Center
Life sciences venture firm Emergent Technologies said last week that its portfolio company Hyalose received approval from Oklahoma’s Economic Development Generating Excellence, or EDGE, policy board for a $1.23 million grant to build a center for manufacturing hyaluronic acid and related glycosaminoglycans products for use in formulating clinical diagnostic tools and companion therapies.
The center will be located in the Presbyterian Health Foundation's Research Park in Oklahoma City.
Hyalose’s technology was discovered at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and its suite of products was developed using company funding and an Oklahoma Advanced Research Support grant from the Oklahoma Center for Advancement of Science and Technology.
Oklahoma's EDGE endowment supports the transfer of technology to the private sector.

LSGCP Invests $250K in Cell Analysis Startup Indigo Biosciences
The Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania said last week that it has invested $250,000 in Indigo Biosciences, which is developing frozen, single-use, cell-based nuclear receptor assays for drug discovery.
Indigo, which was founded in 2005 by Penn State professor Jack Vanden Heuvel and University of Kansas professor Blake Peterson, provides pre-clinical testing services to small pharmaceutical and neutraceutical companies.
Indigo specializes in evaluating the effects of small molecules on nuclear receptors, a class of drug targets implicated in cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and obesity, among other diseases.
The company’s frozen cell-based assays are ideal for high-throughput screening, and use a proprietary cryo-preservatrion technology called CryoMite, which allows the assay to be stored at -80° C with significantly greater survivability versus other assays, the company said.

India Reportedly Planning 20 New Biotech Parks
India’s Economic Times reported last week that the country is planning to develop 20 new biotech parks to promote life science research.
Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Science and Technology, said that the creation of the new parks, which will add to four biotech parks already in place in Lucknow, Hyderabad, Pune, and Punjab, “is one of our initiatives for promoting quality research in biotechnology and its applied fields,” the paper reported.
Sibal added that India’s Department of Biotechnology plans to sign a 10-year agreement with the UK’s Wellcome Trust “for ensuring high quality human resources, which is one of the key elements for scientific leadership.”
Sibal made his remarks at the opening of Lucknow Biotech Park, which was founded in 2002 but officially inaugurated last week. The 8-acre park is a joint venture of the central and the state governments, with assistance from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Institute of Technology, and other institutions.

London Bioscience Facilities Join Forces to Create London BioAlliance
The London BioScience Innovation Centre and BioPark said last week that they are collaborating together to create the London BioAlliance, a “bioscience hub” that will offer access to 67,800 square feet of category 2 and 3 laboratories, suites, offices, meeting rooms, and events facilities.
“The London BioScience Innovation Centre has been extending to support increasing numbers of start-up biotech companies, based in London and overseas, since its opening in 1992,” said Colin Howard, CEO of the center, in a statement. “The partnership with BioPark, to form the London BioAlliance, is creating a successful symbiotic relationship by helping us to grow, which will ultimately benefit the companies that we strive to serve.”
Both LBIC and BioPark currently provide facilities and business support for biotech startups, but “LBIC successfully incubates new bioscience ventures whilst BioPark provides the grow-on space that companies need for continuing development,” the organizations said.
The creation of the London BioAlliance will allow LBIC clients to expand within London, while BioPark clients will be able to access LBIC’s facilities.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.