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MD Anderson Cancer Research Institute, UMB BioPark, Wexford Science + Technology, UniStar Properties, Winstanley Enterprises, State of North Carolina, High Point Economic Development Corp. Genentech, CLC, Tengion, Wet Lab LaunchPad, Piedmont Triangle Rese

MD Anderson Cancer Center Relocating Orlando Research Institute to Lake Nona, Fla.
The MD Anderson Cancer Center will relocate its Cancer Research Institute in Orlando, Fla., to the University of Central Florida Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona, Fla.
CRI will triple its current space when it moves into 30,000 square feet on the fifth floor of the new UCF Burnett Biomedical Sciences Building, scheduled for completion at Lake Nona in 2009. The CRI will occupy the building for up to five years while MD Anderson plans for and constructs its own research facility within Lake Nona’s Science & Technology Park.
CRI said it hopes to facilitate collaborations with researchers at the UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona, as well as share core support facilities and faculty when possible. CRI currently employs 12 researchers, a number the institute said could triple as a result of the added space and resources.
"Our eventual plan is to have as many as 20 to 25 research scientists, with a total staff of 200 to 250,” Clarence Brown, president of MD Anderson, told the Orlando Sentinel.

MD Anderson will pay UCF $500,000 a year to lease the top floor of the five-story Burnett building, under a lease to run between three and five years, Terry Hickey, UCF's provost and executive vice president, told the Sentinel.

CRI joins Lake Nona’s emerging health sciences cluster, the anchor of the master-planned community of Lake Nona, and will serve as a biomedical research and educational hub highlighted by UCF’s College of Medicine and Healthcare Campus, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, and a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. On Dec. 18, Lake Nona’s developer, the Tavistock Group, announced it had come to terms with the federal government to sell it land for the hospital.

One expected medical anchor aborted plans to come to Lake Nona when the Nemours Foundation agreed to build its long-planned children’s hospital 2 miles away, on land it recently agreed to purchase.
MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, part of Orlando Regional Healthcare, is affiliated with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

At UMB BioPark, Wexford to Build Third Building Set to Break Ground in 2008
Wexford Science + Technology of Baltimore has reached agreement with the board of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, BioPark to build a third building of 180,000 square feet. A groundbreaking is scheduled for March 20, with construction set to be completed by the summer of 2009. The park now consists of 360,000 square feet in two Wexford-built buildings, the second of which is slated for completion early in 2008. A total 10 buildings are planned at UMB BioPark.

UniStar Properties Buys Alexion Pharmaceuticals HQ in Cheshire, Conn., for $31M
UniStar Properties has purchased the headquarters of Alexion Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire, Conn., and surrounding 75 acres from Winstanley Enterprises for $31.1 million. The 171,000-square-foot building at 350 Knotter Drive houses Alexion’s home base, where 250 employees are based, as well as a facility for Arch Chemicals.
Completed in 1973, the property is part of a business park in northern New Haven at the intersection of I-84 and I-691. UniStar said the site will be marketed to businesses seeking a presence between the established life science clusters of Boston/Cambridge, Mass., and northern New Jersey. Another selling point: The site’s location between Yale Medical Center in New Haven and University of Connecticut Medical Center in Farmington.
UniStar, which announced the purchase earlier this month, was represented in the deal by two in-house professionals, Samuel Begun and Jim Kowats. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., UniStar has acquired more than a dozen New England properties since it was established in 2003.
Winstanley sold the Cheshire property more than a month after shelling out $14.5 million to acquire its second life sciences property in New Haven, namely the ground lease for the 270,000-square-foot 25 Science Park (150 Munson St.), which Winstanley acquired from BioMed Realty Trust [BioRegion News, Nov. 5, 2007].

Pharma Companies Win $9.6M in Subsidies Toward Expansion; 205 Jobs Projected
TransTech Pharma and a spinoff company, PharmaCore, have been awarded a total $9.6 million in subsidies from the state of North Carolina and the city of High Point, NC, toward an expansion projected to create a combined 205 new jobs.
TransTech and PharmaCore have been approved for a $6.57 million Job Development Investment Grant, as well as $3.05 million in aid from High Point, toward the expansion.
The High Point incentives were opposed by two city councilmen: “I know it’s vital to get new industries started and to have them in your city, but I don’t believe in extortion,” one council opponent, Mike Pugh, told the News & Record of High Point. “When multimillion dollar companies come to us while small businesses are suffering and say, 'Give us money or we’ll leave or we won’t come at all,’ well, I think sometimes you just have to call their bluff.”

Gov. Michael Easley said in a written statement the deal will benefit the state and High Point, since the companies expect to generate a combined $15.2 million a year in state and city taxes as a result of the expansion. Also supportive of the subsidies has been the High Point Economic Development Corp., which sought to retain the companies following attraction efforts by other cities and states.
The companies will spend a combined $23 million on the expansion, which would grow the companies’ facilities from the current 77,000 square feet to 186,000 square feet within three buildings — 4160, 4180 and 4170 Mendenhall Oaks Parkway. The companies would acquire an undisclosed amount of land, increasing their holdings to more than 30 acres.
Over the next five years, TransTech plans to grow to 240 staffers by adding 155 workers to its current workforce of 85 people, while PharmaCore will add 50 workers to its current workforce of 40. According to Easley, who announced the expansion Dec. 20, the average annual salary for the new jobs is expected to be $96,000 a year, not including benefits — more than double the Guilford County average of $36,712 a year.

Genentech Begins Pursuing License for Second Vacaville Cell Culture Plant
Genentech has completed a $600 million expansion of its Vacaville, Calif., cell culture plant, believed to be the world’s largest such facility, and has begun seeking a federal license to operate the facility.
Genentech has begun testing the 380,000-square-foot Cell Culture Plant 2, a year-long process expected to result in the company producing test batches of drugs while it pursues a license from the US Food and Drug Administration, in a process expected to take another 15 months, the East Bay Business Times reported. The company said it expects to receive the license in the third quarter of 2009.
By adding to the existing 427,000-square-foot Cell Culture Plant 1, Genentech will double to 344,000 liters its production capacity for bulk liquid drugs such as Avastin, Herceptin, and Rituxan. General contractor DPR Construction of Redwood City, Calif., has received a temporary certificate of occupancy for the expanded plant, which entailed in part expanding the existing warehouse and doubling the size of the central utility plant.

CLC, Tengion Move Into Wet Lab LaunchPad at Piedmont Triad Research Park 
Carolina Liquid Chemistries, a company headquartered in California, and Tengion, a leader in the field of regenerative medicine, are the first tenant businesses to occupy space at the new Wet Lab LaunchPad within the Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem, NC. The LaunchPad is located within newly built lab space in the research park’s Richard H. Dean Biomedical Research Building.
CLC develops in vitro diagnostic reagents for quantitative testing of analytes used in hospital and private laboratories worldwide. CLC was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Brea, Calif. At PTRP, CLC’s new operation will be engaged in applied research for developing new diagnostic applications for chemistry analyzers.
Tengion is a leader in the field of regenerative medicine and is developing neo-organs and tissues derived from a patient's own cells. The company's lead product, the Tengion Neo-Bladder, is currently in Phase II clinical trials in the United States in pediatric patients with spina bifida and adult patients with spinal cord injuries. Tengion's scientific founder, Anthony Atala, is director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and chair of Tengion’s scientific advisory board.
The Wet Lab LaunchPad was formally opened Dec. 17 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and Norris Tolson, president of the state-funded North Carolina Biotechnology Center. LaunchPad has space for a third tenant.
The LaunchPad was built with $740,000 in funding and service donations from several dozen suppliers and organizations, including general contractor Kirkland of High Point. Space at LaunchPad leases at $20 per square foot, about one third the cost of nearby wet lab space.

Developer Buys Former Tanox Headquarters in Houston, Eyes Larger Biotech Park
Houston developer Frank Liu has agreed to buy the two former headquarters buildings of drug developer Tanox totaling 110,000 square feet, and will reposition them into the first of several planned buildings within a new biotechnology park, the Houston Business Journal reported earlier this month.
Liu’s Lovett Commercial is buying the site from biotech giant Genentech, which over the past year has acquired Tanox for $919 million.
Lovett Commercial is acquiring the two buildings as well as 24 acres of vacant land planned for future life sciences development. The property is located just south of the 610 Loop on Stella Link, a couple of miles from the Texas Medical Center.

Regus Group Cites Biotech Proximity in Opening New Marlborough, Mass., Center
Office-suite operator The Regus Group said the presence of biotech companies as well as other high-tech, medical, and defense employers explained why it has opened a new office center in Marlborough, Mass., at 225 Cedar Hill St., near interstates 90 (MassPike) and 495.
The 15,500-square-foot center features 68 offices, 109 workstations, one board room, and one videoconferencing studio.
Regus Cedar Hill Place will hold a formal grand opening and ribbon cutting on Jan. 23. The new center will join Regus’ network of 950 locations in 400 cities and 70 countries.

Biotech Park Among Uses Developer Mulls for 90 Acres in Norton, Mass.
Campanelli Companies will position a 90-acre parcel it recently acquired in Norton, Mass., for tenants interested in a biotech office park as well as a hotel and a shopping center, a spokesman for the Braintree, Mass., developer told the Boston Herald.
Campanelli bought the property — located next to the Tournament Players Club of Boston golf course — from The Park at Great Woods Corp. for $3 million, according to a deed. Norton officials assessed the site at $7.1 million.

Neurocrine Sells, Leases Back its San Diego Headquarters Campus for $109M
Pharmaceutical company Neurocrine Biosciences has agreed to sell and lease back its two-building, 220,804-square-foot headquarters campus at 12780 and 12790 El Camino Real in San Diego for $109 million to an entity of Veralliance Properties, a San Diego developer whose holdings include life sciences campuses, the San Diego Daily Transcript reported on Dec. 26.

Reports: Vertex Ponders Move of Cambridge, Mass. Operations to Boston Waterfront
Vertex Pharmaceuticals is considering a consolidation of its operations from several Cambridge, Mass., sites to a single new office tower at the $1 billion Fan Pier development planned for the South Boston waterfront, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald reported Dec. 20, citing unnamed sources.
The 21-acre Fan Pier is where developer Joseph Fallon has begun construction of the site’s 500,000-square-foot first building on Northern Avenue, set to be completed in 2009. The unidentified sources said Vertex is considering taking all of a second commercial building planned by Fallon, also to total 500,000 square feet and on Northern Avenue.
Neither Vertex nor Fallon would comment on the company's interest in Fan Pier, though Fallon told the Globe: “We would have great interest in entertaining any pharmaceutical or life sciences user that would want to look at Fan Pier.”
The Herald reported Fallon is also in talks with additional biotech companies, explaining why he sought and received approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority to add laboratory space to the master plan for Fan Pier.

The Scan

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.

Acne-Linked Loci Found Through GWAS Meta-Analysis

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics find new and known acne vulgaris risk loci with a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis, highlighting hair follicle- and metabolic disease-related genes.

Retina Cell Loss Reversed by Prime Editing in Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa

A team from China turns to prime editing to correct a retinitis pigmentosa-causing mutation in the PDE6b gene in a mouse model of the progressive photoreceptor loss condition in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CRISPR Screens Reveal Heart Attack-Linked Gene

Researchers in PLOS Genetics have used CRISPR screens to home in on variants associated with coronary artery disease that affect vascular endothelial function.