NCBiotech News

We work hard to bring you the stories about the life science community in North Carolina. Every once in a while, we add a little news of our own. Read some of those stories below, or check out some of our perspectives on our staff blog.

Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio), a Chapel Hill-based spin-out from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill founded with funding support from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has entered a collaboration with a Massachusetts firm to develop AskBio's technologies to battle amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease).

Bayer CropScience, which has United States headquarters in Research Triangle Park, has given $1 million to North Carolina State University to endow a chair in sustainable development.

Tom Rufty, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education and a professor of environmental plant physiology in the Department of Crop Science, has been named the first Bayer CropScience Professor of Sustainable Development.

Liverpool, England-based Eden Biodesign Ltd. has opened its United States subsidiary, Eden Biodesign Inc., with the appointment of Maria Lusk as director of client management at the new Research Triangle Park facility.

Lusk, former project manager and business development manager at PharmaDirections, has 17 years' experience in biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, including roles at Diosynth, Bayer and LabCorp.

BioDelivery Sciences International (BDSI) of Raleigh has signed a research collaboration and licensing agreement with a global non-profit foundation to develop a BioDelivery therapy targeting neglected parasitic diseases such as leishmaniasis and Chagas disease found primarily in developing countries.

BDSI signed the agreement with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a foundation focused on the development of new drugs and new formulations of existing drugs for patients suffering from some of the world's most neglected communicable diseases.

Athenix, an 8-year-old Research Triangle Park agricultural biotechnology company whose research was advanced by a $150,000 Small Business Research loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in 2002, has entered a collaboration with DuPont's Pioneer Hi-Bred business to develop genetic insect resistance in corn and soybeans.

Under the agreement, DesMoines, Iowa-based Pioneer will use proprietary insect-resistance trait genes from Athenix to develop and commercialize next-generation corn and soybean seed products. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has secured a $486 million contract to build a new flu vaccine plant in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted the eight-year contract to build and run a vaccine manufacturing site in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

When our economy recovers, it's a good bet that the biotechnology sector will be one of those sectors leading the way.

Raleigh-based early-stage biomedical device company Micell Technologies has signed an agreement with Maxcor, a subsidiary of Opto Circuits India, to put Micell's drug-delivery technology into Maxcor drug-eluting stents.

Start-up companies in North Carolina that need help bridging early funding gaps en route to government grants or private-equity support have until Friday, Jan. 30 to submit online pre-proposal applications for the next round of grant funding from NC IDEA.

Firms focused on medical devices, green technologies, material sciences or information technology can get grants of up to $50,000 in this seventh application cycle to be offered by the non-profit organization. Since its founding in 2006, NC IDEA has awarded more than $1.2 million to 32 companies.

GlaxoSmithKline and XenoPort announced that GSK has resubmitted the New Drug Application (NDA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting approval of Solzira (gabapentin enacarbil) Extended Release Tablets for the treatment of moderate-to-severe primary Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

A jointly developed drought-tolerant corn from BASF Plant Science and Monsanto is being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulatory clearance, according to the companies.

Monsanto has submitted the product to the FDA and, if approved, the firms expect to have it available to farmers within the next four or five years. The BASF unit's R&D facility is in Research Triangle Park.

North Carolina has opened a trade and investment office in Shanghai, the seventh state Department of Commerce overseas office that promotes business activity. Others are in Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany and Korea.

China is North Carolina's second-largest export market, trailing only Canada. Other major markets for Tar Heel goods and services are, in order, Mexico, Japan, Germany and France.

ParagonDx, a genetic and molecular testing diagnostics company based in Morrisville, has started selling a warfarin-sensitivity testing service to doctors' offices.

Warfarin, also known for the brand name Coumadin, is a blood thinner that prevents and treats blood clots. The therapeutic effect for warfarin can vary widely among individuals, depending on their genetic make-up.

Bill Dean, the Director of the Piedmont Triad Research Park has been named Chairman of the newly formed North Carolina Research Parks Network organization. As of January 2009, Bill will chair the Network, a coalition of seven leading science parks located across the state of North Carolina.

Research Triangle Park-based SCYNEXIS has reported positive results from a Phase I clinical trial for its lead oral antiviral drug candidate for treating adults with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

The experimental medicine, dubbed SCY-635, represents a new class of drugs called cyclophilin inhibitors. They're a family of enzymatic proteins related to the more well-known drug cyclosporine that has been used for decades to prevent organ rejection after transplants.