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Wareham Properties, Amyris Biotechnologies, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, SAFC, Chromatin, Biotechnology/Bioscience Training Investment Program, Illini-Entrepreneurship Center Network/Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, Solvay.

Amyris, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Ink Leases at Wareham’s EmeryStation East
Wareham Properties has announced a pair of life sciences leases at its 245,000-square-foot EmeryStation East (5885 Holis St.) campus in Emeryvile, Calif.:
  • Amyris Biotechnologies — a developer of pharmaceuticals, renewable fuels, and specialty chemicals — has inked a deal for 71,000 square feet. Amyris is relocating from 15,000 square feet at Wareham’s EmeryStation North.
  • Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics has agreed to lease 36,000 square feet now under construction.
Representing Wareham in both deals were Bill Norm and Jonathan Tomasco of the San Francisco commercial real estate brokerage Cornish and Carey, which announced the leases last week.
Among selling points for the campus: A 22,000 square-foot central landscaped plaza with fountains and sculptures, pedestrian walkways, and terraces, and 64,000-square-foot floor plates.

SAFC Plans $29M Expansion of Jerusalem Manufacturing Facility
SAFC, a member of the Sigma-Aldrich Group, has announced a $29 million investment to expand its drug substance capabilities in high-potency biologics at the Sigma-Aldrich facility in Jerusalem, Israel. The expansion will allow SAFC’s pharma unit to provide process development and cGMP manufacturing to customers requiring large-scale, high-potency, toxic, or hazardous drug substances.
Scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2009, the 50,000-square-foot expansion will focus production on secondary metabolites, cytotoxins, and large-molecule proteins. A 30,000-square-foot section of the new facility has been designed to comply with Biosafety Level 2 standards, enabling manipulation of human pathogens. The site will also include 1,000 and 4,000-liter tank capacities for bacterial and fungal fermentation.
The new capabilities are also designed to add to the capacity of SAFC Pharma's High Potent Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient at its organic synthesis flagship facility in Madison, Wisc.
“It is consistent with SAFC's strategy to extend the range and scope of coverage in niche technologies and APIs for biologics sectors,” SAFC president Frank Wicks said in a Sept. 26 press release announcing the expansion.

Chromatin Receives Illinois State Funding to Advance Mini-Chromosome Technology
Chromatin has received an undisclosed amount of grant funding through the Biotechnology/Bioscience Training Investment Program, the Illini-Entrepreneurship Center Network/Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, and the Internships in Entrepreneurship program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The BioTIP and IECN programs are funded through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, while the Internships in Entrepreneurship program is funded by the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership at UIUC. These funds will be matched by contributions from Chromatin and will be used to further develop and license the company’s gene stacking technology.
Founded at the University of Chicago, Chromatin is developing and marketing novel proprietary technology that uses a plant’s own DNA to add several new traits to crops. These mini-chromosomes can be used in any plant and benefit agriculture and biofuels production.
Chromatin will use the IECN funding to expand its mini-chromosome licensing activities.

Report: Birmingham, Ala., a Leading Prospect for Solvay’s $300M Flu Plant
Birmingham, Ala., has emerged as the leader among prospective sites interested in housing a $300 million flu vaccine plant to be built by Solvay, the Birmingham News reported on Sept. 23.
Alabama officials, however, insisted to the newspaper that no deal had been finalized to bring the plant into Jefferson Metropolitan Park Lakeshore, an industrial park overseen by Jefferson County, Ala., while Solvay spokesman Neil Hirsch said the company was considering several sites, with no final decision having been made.
Speculation about Birmingham intensified after the Banner-Herald newspaper in Athens, Ga., reported a day earlier that the Georgia community had been eliminated from consideration. The Banner-Herald cited as its source Gerry Whitworth, a commercial real estate broker who was quoted as blaming Georgia officials for not aggressively pursuing the project for Athens.

The project is expected to create more than 200 jobs and serve as an anchor to the Alabama city’s nascent biotech cluster.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.