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.

Durham-based drug development firm Addrenex Pharmaceuticals has reported positive results from a second Phase III trial of drug candidate Clonicel, which it hopes to market to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Wilmington-based contract research organization PPD has expanded its global reach by opening an office in Tokyo, Japan, and completing the acquisition of AbC.R.O., a contract research organization with operations in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Tokyo office expands PPD's Phase II-IV clinical development services in response to growing client demand in East Asia. PPD will provide clinical management services in key therapeutic areas from this location.

Research Triangle Park-based Tranzyme Pharma, helped in its early development by a $150,000 loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has reported positive results from a Phase II clinical study of its experimental drug TZP-101 for treating gastroparesis, an inability of the stomach to empty food efficiently, which is especially troublesome for diabetics.

Morrisville-based Sicel Technologies, a privately held specialty medical device company whose technology was developed with the help of a $90,000 North Carolina Biotechnology Center loan in 2000, is adapting its health-care technology to help the national security effort.

Sajith Wickramasekara, a student at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, is one of two Southeastern regional finalists in an international competition of high school biotechnology research projects, held in Atlanta on Monday.

Wickramasekara and the other regional finalist, Johnny Fells III of Georgia, were competing in the Sanofi-Aventis International BioGENEius Challenge, conducted by the Arlington, Va.-based Biotechnology Institute.

Pharmaceutical industry veteran Gabriel Cipau, Ph.D., has used a loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to launch a new company in Research Triangle Park to commercialize a line of brain-disorder therapies spun out of Duke University research labs.

Cipau, who serves as president & CEO of the new clinical-stage firm, NeuroScience Pharmaceuticals, said it focuses on developing neurosteroid drugs. Neurosteroids are potent brain substances that play a role in controlling anxiety and depression.

Durham-based Hemo Bioscience has signed an agreement to become the exclusive distributor of blood grouping reagents manufactured by the American Red Cross Diagnostic Manufacturing Division in North America.

Founded in 2003, Hemo manufactures and sells a complete line of blood-analyzing reagents and ancillary products used by hospitals, reference laboratories and donor centers to detect and identify certain properties of the cell and serum components of blood prior to transfusion.

Morrisville-based nContact Surgical, a developer of tissue coagulation devices used during heart surgery, has reportedly raised almost $5 million of a $15 million round, according to a regulatory filing.

According to a report on the funding from PEHub, return investors include Intersouth Partners, Finistere Partners, Massey Burch Capital and Harbert Venture Partners. Other investors listed on the company's Web site include Tall Oaks, Village Ventures and Hippo Ventures.

Research Triangle Park-based biomarker development company Metabolon has launched a grant program to promote expanded use of its metabolomics research and diagnostic tool -- and announced a milestone in using that tool to detect early-stage kidney problems.

Muscadine grape-skin powder, from Lewisville-based Muscadine Naturals, provided significant protection against radiation damage for mice in an independent study reported this month at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver.

Colorado State University veterinarian Ronald Carsten led the study showing that mice consuming the powder two days before radiation showed significantly improved radiation protection when compared to mice that received no powder.

You can read about North Carolina's efforts to develop a biotechnology industry in this week's The Economist in an article titled "Pipettes at the Ready."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a manufacturing process that will allow Biogen Idec to produce higher yields of its multiple sclerosis drug, TYSABRI®.

The product will be made using the high-titer process at the company's Research Triangle Park location, one of the world's largest cell-culture facilities.

"Developing this high titer process is another example of our world-class expertise and leadership in biologics manufacturing," said Biogen Idec Chief Operating Officer Bob Hamm.

Pharma giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer will be combining their HIV portfolio to create a new company. The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the U.S. headquarters of the new venture will be in Research Triangle Park.

Pfizer and GSK both have products on the market and in the pipeline for fighting HIV. The new company will use that technology to focus solely on fighting the virus that leads to AIDS.

North Carolina State University will outline its activities on the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis with a series of free public programs, "Discovering Nature's Possibilities," at the new research campus north of Charlotte.

Global Vaccines, a Research Triangle Park-based non-profit vaccine company, has penned a one-year agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) to help improve existing polio vaccines -- and possibly put an end to polio worldwide.

Under terms of the agreement, Global will use its in-house vaccine technologies in conjunction with one of the two existing polio vaccines in an attempt to finally eliminate the last vestiges of polio as a human scourge.