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Research Triangle Regional Partnership, Chamberlin Associates, Gateway Business Park, SAFC Pharma, ZymoGenetics, Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council, LAB Research


Five Biotech, Medical Device Firms Unveil $301M in Projects Within NC’s Triangle Region
Five companies involved in biotechnology and/or medical device manufacturing in North Carolina’s Research Triangle region unveiled more than $301 million worth of investments or expansions this summer -- commitments projected to create more than 425 new jobs, according to the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, a group that coordinates economic development in a 13-county region.
The five represent about one third of the $1 billion investment total announced by the partnership for the period from June through August. Those projects are estimated to create a total of nearly 1,700 new jobs, and reflect more economic activity than the $819 million recorded for all of 2007.
The five life-sci companies:
  • Merck announced an additional $300 million investment creating 180 more jobs at its burgeoning new Durham vaccine manufacturing facility. Merck hopes to begin making chicken pox vaccine by 2010 at its $750 million plant, which will ultimately employ some 400 people.
  • Syngenta, the Swiss agricultural biotechnology firm, announced plans for a $671,640 investment, creating 75 jobs, at its Durham site.
  • Patheon, a global provider of drug development and manufacturing services, announced plans to move its headquarters from Canada to the Triangle, investing $437,500 and creating 150 jobs, both in its global headquarters and in a new analytical development laboratory [BRN, June 23].
  • Danish agricultural biotechnology company Cheminova announced establishment of a 20-person U.S. headquarters with a $146,080 initial investment.
  • Tryton Medical, a medical device maker, announced plans to establish a 12-person corporate headquarters in Wake County.

Developers Eye 2.3M Additional Square Feet of Life Sciences Space in SF Peninsula
In addition to some 1 million square feet of biotech office or R&D space now available in the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula region for lease, developers plan on bringing another 2.3 million square feet to the sub-market over the next year or two, the San Francisco Business Times reported.
Developers, brokers and biotech leaders quoted by the newspaper said they need the additional space to accommodate growing tenants. A consensus of developers said they are proceeding mostly with “build to suit” projects designed with a specific tenant in mind.
One company, Chamberlin Associates, is developing more than 185,000 square feet in South San Francisco for neurological drugs maker Elan. That includes a new 102,000-square-foot facility at 180 Oyster Point Blvd., set to be completed by November. Elan also has signed on for 83,420 square feet at Chamberlin-developed 200 Oyster Point, the shell for which will be completed in October 2009.
Elan now leases four single-story buildings totaling 215,000 square feet in Chamberlin’s Gateway Business Park and closed its San Diego facility, integrating development and commercial functions in South San Francisco. Another developer, BioMed Realty Trust, has another 1.6 million square feet already approved or proposed. And space is under construction by Alexandria Real Estate Equities and Health Care Property Investors.
Chamberlin is also seeking approvals from South San Francisco officials for a master plan to redevelop Gateway Business Park. The developer wants to build 1 million square feet of new space over 10 years.
New space is not cheap to build, at between $200 and $250 per square foot, compared to roughly $70 per square foot for open office space. But the vacancy rate for existing Peninsula sites of 50,000-plus square feet with ready-to-go lab space is low at about 5 percent.
 “The worst thing is to have someone who wants space and you don’t have it,” said Randy Scott, a partner with Cornish & Carey Commercial who has worked on some 270 life sciences lease deals, told the newspaper. “There’s a lot of shell space, but then that’s another nine months to build out.”
The world’s largest and second-largest biotech companies, Genentech and Gilead Sciences — have proposed expansions of their campuses in South San Francisco and Foster City, respectively. But the leasing market has numerous other available properties, like the three buildings totaling 348,000 square feet that Amgen never occupied and put on the sublease market in last year, the newspaper noted.

SAFC Pharma Plans $30M Third Expansion of Madison, Wis.-Area Operations
A pharmaceutical products subsidiary of Sigma-Aldrich has announced plans for a $30 million expansion of its Madison operations. St. Louis-based SAFC Pharma said it will buy 15 acres in Verona, Wis., near the Madison, Wis., production site where it makes high-potency active pharmaceutical ingredients, for construction of a 45,000-square-foot plant for large-scale production.
The Verona plant will house commercial-scale reactors capable of producing pharmaceutical ingredient batch sizes up to 4,000 liters. Construction of the plant is expected to be complete by the end of 2009.
The new plant marks SAFC’s third expansion of its Madison-area operations in recent years, the Business Journal of Milwaukee noted. With the expansion, SAFC will have invested more than $75 million in developing its high-potency compound manufacturing capabilities in recent years, including a $4.5 million expansion of the Madison operations in 2007 and a $12 million expansion completed in 2006.

ZymoGenetics Nets $11.5M in Sale of Parcel Next to HQ in Seattle’s Eastlake Section
ZymoGenetics has confirmed that it has sold a parcel of land next to its headquarters in Seattle’s Eastlake section for “net proceeds of” $11.5 million, the Seattle Times reported. The newspaper cited county land records listing the buyer as an affiliate of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, the publicly-traded Pasadena, Calif.-based real estate investment trust that owns the main ZymoGenetics building under a sale-leaseback arrangement.
ZymoGenetics bought the parcel in portions in 2001 and 2002, when the company anticipated it would need the land for future expansion. Zymogenetics will record a gain on the sale of about $7 million, it said in a regulatory filing.

Genome Analysis Centre Headed for Norwich (UK) Research Park
The UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council has confirmed it is planning to develop a Genome Analysis Center within the Norwich Research Park, the Evening News of Norwich reported.
The facility would employ 60 people directly, but is projected to create between 500 and 750 indirect jobs as scientists spin out new companies.

The news was today hailed by council leaders, who say the centre would not only be a huge economic boost for the county, but it could put Norfolk well and truly on the map in terms of scientific research.

“The proposed Genome Analysis Centre is highly significant in terms of Norwich's 'science offer' and will be a key asset in developing the international reputation of the East of England in bio-sciences and new businesses and jobs for people who live in Norwich,” Steve Morphew, leader of the Norwich City Council, said in a statement.

Discussions over the new centre have been going on for the past four months, and have involved organisations such as local councils, the East of England Development Agency, the John Innes Centre, the Institute of Food Research and the University of East Anglia.

“Further announcements can be expected later this year,” Steve Visscher, BBSRC interim chief executive, said in a statement.

Next month, the Norfolk County Council will be asked to provide a subsidy for the new facility, whose cost is not being made public.

But John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, told the Evening News the project needs significant funding from the regional East of England Development Agency: “This is an exciting prospect but it needs substantial funding from EEDA and the key elements of the business case are still being worked through.

“If it happens, it will be a big boost to the reputation of Norwich Research Park as a world leader in cutting edge science, but it's too early to be opening the champagne,” Fuller added.


LAB Research Awarded More than $3M for Expansion of its Laval, Quebec Facilities
LAB Research, a Canadian global non-clinical contract research organization, has received more than CAN $3 million ($2.8 million) in government subsidies and loans to support the company’s $40 million, three-year expansion of its facilities in Laval, Quebec.
Luc Mainville, LAB Research’s president and CEO, said in a statement the expansion is the company’s largest investment to date, and “will enable us to more than double our surface area and ultimately triple our revenues from the Canadian site.”
LAB Research obtained a non-refundable contribution of $2 million ($1.9 million) as part of a program for attracting and retaining research investments administered by the Québec government's Ministère du Développement économique, de l'Innovation et de l'Exportation.
LAB Research was also awarded a CAN $529,000 ($496,429.44) subsidy from the Québec government's Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité Sociale to contribute to the creation of 242 new jobs. The company also obtained a CAN $500,000 ($469,374) loan from Canada Economic Development as part of its Business and Regional Growth Program. Finally, LAB Research will receive a municipal tax credit from the City of Laval for a five-year period.
Initiated in the second half of 2007, the expansion project will increase the site capacity from 87,000 to 170,000 square feet, including a 120 percent increase of the vivarium activities and the addition of several new services such as inhalation toxicology, metabolism studies and bio-analytical capabilities. Part of the expansion is set to be complete later this month.

The Scan

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A higher polygenic risk score for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is also linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, a new study in Molecular Psychiatry finds.

Study Offers Insights Into Role of Structural Variants in Cancer

A new study in Nature using cell lines shows that structural variants can enable oncogene activation.

Computer Model Uses Genetics, Health Data to Predict Mental Disorders

A new model in JAMA Psychiatry finds combining genetic and health record data can predict a mental disorder diagnosis before one is made clinically.

Study Tracks Off-Target Gene Edits Linked to Epigenetic Features

Using machine learning, researchers characterize in BMC Genomics the potential off-target effects of 19 computed or experimentally determined epigenetic features during CRISPR-Cas9 editing.