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.

Targacept has discontinued development of an experimental pain drug under study through a partnership with GlaxoSmithKline after research showed the first-generation candidate wasn't effective enough to justify more investment.

Though the Winston-Salem drug company said the Phase I clinical trial of the drug candidate TC-6499 didn't justify further work with that compound, Targacept sees a bright future for its research targeting neuronal nicotinic receptors (NNRs).

Morrisville-based Sicel Technologies has received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a radiation dosing monitor that can be implanted in the human body near the cancer that is being treated.

Sicel said it will now start marketing its DVS, or dose verification system, a dosimeter designed to be implanted near tumor sites in breast and prostate cancer patients who are receiving external radiation therapy.

Dr. Joshua Boger, chief executive and founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., will be the keynote speaker at UNC Charlotte's Five Ventures entrepreneurial business competition April 9. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company founded in 1989 by Joshua Boger and was among the first companies to adopt an explicit strategy of rational drug design as opposed to techniques based on combinatorial chemistry.

Interested in the promise of biotechnology, but not sure how to bring it to the classroom?

Been teaching science a long time, but looking for some new ideas?

Sign up for one of our annual summer teacher workshops. The week-long classes are held across the state and are open to North Carolina teachers.

A $50 registration fee holds your place, and most workshops pay a stipend and give you access to free laboratory supplies for the coming year.

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Bioscience researchers throughout North Carolina have until April 27 to submit proposals to the National Institutes of Health for grants worth up to $500,000 a year each -- $1 million over the two-year project period -- coming from the federal economic stimulus package.

NIH has kicked off its stimulus package spending with the new Challenge Grants program, containing at least $200 million for distribution in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. It's expected to fund 200 or more grants from applicants who get their proposals in before the end of April 2009.

Rising juniors or seniors enrolled in any North Carolina college or university's baccalaureate degree program can study marine science at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, thanks to a summer research program sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Durham-based Argos Therapeutics is presenting two abstracts at the 2009 Annual Scientific Conference of the Canadian Society of Transplantation, outlining positive tests on its experimental therapy to prevent organ-transplant rejection.

The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences could add 400 research workers to occupy a new 100,000-square-foot building on its Research Triangle Park campus if a tentative drug development agreement is finalized with China's leading medical research park, according to an exclusive report in Triangle Business Journal.

Tranzyme Pharma will join 14 other North Carolina biotech companies pitching their ideas at CED's Venture 2009 conference.

The RTP-based company develops products to treat gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases and is one of two featured presenters at the conference. The other is Peak10, a firm that provides data centers and has headquarters in Charlotte.

Submit that business plan to Charlotte's Five Ventures Business Plan competition.

Five Ventures is an annual event that provides an excellent opportunity for early-stage entrepreneurs to present to a panel of business experts. Applicants have access to coaching from successful entrepreneurs, service providers and compete for cash awards.

The deadline for entries is 6 p.m. on Monday, March 9, so check out the details now.

North Carolina State University has received a two-year, $987,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to encourage underrepresented minority students to enter graduate school in engineering, science and related fields.

The grant establishes the Bridge to the Doctorate Program at NCSU and provides graduate-school fellowships for students who plan to pursue a Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields. The grant will fund fellowships for 12 students for two years.

Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have helped identify a gene that modifies the severity of lung disease in people with cystic fibrosis (CF), a lethal genetic condition.

The findings open the door to possible new targets for treating the lung disease, researchers say.

The study appeared online in advance of print publication in Nature as the first published study to search the entire genome looking for genes that modify CF severity.

Burlington-based Laboratory Corporation of America and Duke University have signed an agreement to collaborate on processing of human biological samples to be stored at LabCorp's soon-to-open Biorepository at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

A comprehensive Duke University-led study reaffirms the decision by North Carolina scientific and policy leaders to focus a statewide effort on developing ethanol from cellulosic sources rather than corn.

The report said that cellulosic species, such as switchgrass, are a better option for curbing emissions than corn because they don't require annual replowing and planting. In contrast, a single planting of cellulosic species will continue growing and producing for years while trapping more carbon in the soil.

ASG, a Cary company that provides staffing services for contract research organizations, has purchased neighboring Cary-based CRO Ockham Development Group.

The transaction, completed last month, did not include public disclosure of financial details from the two privately held firms.

James Baker, ASG's CEO, said ASG employs 175 worldwide, including 32 in Cary. Ockham, which is now an ASG subsidiary, employs 65 worldwide, including about 40 in Cary. But he said some staffing changes will result from the acquisition.