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.

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.

Charlotte Research Institute's Five Ventures Competition last week named two North Carolina biotechnology companies and a student-run non-profit as winners in its annual competition.

Countervail Corporation of Charlotte won the Biotech — Pharmaceutical division. The company's products provide protection from and treatment of exposure to chemical and biological weapons.

Two North Carolina students are among seven finalists participating in the Southeastern regional finals of a national competition for high school biotechnology research projects.

The two students, and their schools and projects are:

Gwyn Riddick, regional director of the Piedmont Triad office of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, was recently appointed to serve on the Science Advisory Board (SAB) at UNC Greensboro.

The board's mission is to assist the science departments, research centers and laboratories at UNCG to achieve their goals in government/community relations, professional/industry relations, communications and resource development. Members advise, advocate, and open doors on the university's behalf.

A newly equipped wet lab facility in downtown Winston-Salem has opened for business, supported by a North Carolina Biotechnology Center grant of more than $70,000.

The Wake Forest University Babcock Demon Incubator Wet Lab, in the Piedmont Triad Research Park, offers low-cost, multi-user wet lab space and support for as many as six new biotechnology and bioscience companies annually.

Five North Carolina bioscience start-ups are among 16 young firms vying for more than $100,000 in professional services at this week's annual Five Ventures competition at UNC Charlotte.

The April 9 finals at the university's Barnhardt Student Activities Center include biopharma start-ups Alaeras, of Cary and Countervail, of Charlotte; device developers HepatoSys of Charlotte and Ligamar of Chapel Hill; and Entogenetics, of Raleigh, in the student/non-profit category.

Durham-based Rural Sourcing, Inc., has been chosen by Clarus Information, an Atlanta niche business-intelligence software solution provider for the life sciences, to create new technology jobs in rural America through its rural Centers of Excellence.

Clarus said it chose Rural Sourcing to develop its next-generation product for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Chimerix has teamed up with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) to find and deliver a cure for malaria.

Based in Research Triangle Park, Chimerix develops orally available antiviral therapeutics. Chimerix is giving MMV access to screen Chimerix' chemical library to identify candidates that work against malaria.