Stefan Oschmann came courting biotechnology start-ups last week, a trans-Atlantic visitor promising not only pharmaceutical industry expertise but also cash. Oschmann, who made his pitch to several dozen area life sciences insiders at the Charles Hotel, isn’t an investment banker or venture capitalist. He’s chief executive of Merck Serono, the German-based multinational drug maker that owns the EMD Serono biotech division in Rockland and life sciences toolmaker EMD Millipore in Billerica. Increasingly, however, Oschmann is playing a role as a partner to smaller biotechs — and also as an investor in them. Link
2) Stem-cell treatment restores sight to blind man - New Scientist – 5/20/2013
An experimental stem-cell treatment has restored the sight of a man blinded by the degeneration of his retinal cells. The man, who is taking part in a trial examining the safety of using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to reverse two common causes of blindness, can now see well enough to be allowed to drive. “There’s a guy walking around who was blind, but now can see,” says Gary Rabin, chief executive officer of Advanced Cell Technology, the company in Marlborough, Massachusetts that devised the treatment. “With that sort of vision, you can have a driver’s licence.” Link
3) MGH, AstraZeneca partner to create new drug combos – The Boston Globe – 5/20/2013
Advances in genetic profiling have allowed doctors to match more of their cancer patients with treatments that will target their particular illnesses. But for some about one-third of cancer patients, there are no good matches, leaving them with only conventional chemotherapies and radiation. Now Dr. Keith T. Flaherty, an oncologist, and his colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a more sophisticated formula for analyzing tumors to find their vulnerabilities. On Monday, the hospital will unveil a partnership with AstraZeneca to pair Flaherty’s computer analysis with the company’s growing library of drugs to identify combinations of treatments that would not otherwise have been considered. Link
4) FDA panel backs a new sleep drug - Los Angeles Times – 5/22/2013
An advisory panel to the Food & Drug Administration has recommended approval of a new sleep drug that targets the brain’s wakefulness centers, but suggested the agency should consider a dose of the drug, called suvorexant, lower than that proposed by the medication’s maker, Merck. In doing so, members of the FDA’s advisory committee on peripheral and central nervous system drugs appeared to agree with concerns raised by FDA staff scientists that, at higher doses, the sleep medication may cause dangerous next-day drowsiness in some patients. Link
5) Regeneron, Sanofi asthma drug seen as potential game changer - Reuters – 5/21/2013
A new type of asthma drug meant to attack the underlying causes of the respiratory disease slashed episodes by 87 percent in a mid-stage trial, making it a potential game changer for patients with moderate to severe disease, researchers said on Tuesday. Link
A year has passed since the last time I wrote in this blog. In that time, there were some significant advances in my opinion in the search for an effective treatment for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), including new genetic discoveries, new models for drug screening, and importantly, new clinical trials. Each bringing new hope to people living with ALS, including the 600 estimated to live right here in Massachusetts.
Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS, and I bet that you won’t need to go far outside of your own office to find someone who has been directly touched by ALS. Without an effective treatment the number of people living with the disease stays pretty flat from year to year, in the US about 30,000. Conservatively, that is 5600 people a year in the US alone who are told they have two to five years to live, and there is little to nothing modern medicine can do for them.
However, many diagnosed with ALS beat the odds and live much longer than that, such as Stephen Hawking, Steve Saling (Chelsea), Walter Benson (Belmont), Richard Hackel (Brookline), and many others. Sylvan Menezes, introduced to the MassBio membership about two years ago in a patient profile (read here) survived nearly 6 years before succumbing. This disease is both pathophysiologically complex and clinically heterogeneous that it is easy to get discouraged in the lab and to scratch ALS off the list as a business decision.
Thankfully, the Massachusetts biotech cluster is used to running toward, not away, from hard problems. Read the rest of this entry
EBD Group, the leading partnering firm for the life sciences industry, will hold the sixth annual BioPharm America™ September 17–19, 2013 in Boston, MA, at the Westin Boston Waterfront in collaboration with MassBio.
The deadline to submit an application to present is June 28, 2013!
EBD Group invites biotech, midsize pharmaceutical, and next generation companies to submit an application for a company presentation at BioPharm America™ 2013.
**MassBio members receive an extra $200 off of registration – Be sure to mention “MassBio” in the comments field!**
Click here for more information and to access applications online. You will be notified about the status/outcome of your application by the end of July 2013.
BioPharm America™ is where biotech industry partnerships get started. Meet face-to-face with biotech and pharma executives from around the world to identify and enter strategic relationships.
In 2012, BioPharm America had over 750 delegates from 462 companies taking part in 1,846 one-to-one partnering meetings facilitated by partneringONE®, the the world’s leading web-based partnering system for the life science industry.
Check out the complete list of 2012 presenters here.
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. We are dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism, increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Their long-time friend Bernie Marcus donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization. Since then, we have committed approximately $200 million to scientific research studies, training fellowships and international science initiatives. Website.
For more than 60 years, Charles River has provided tailored research models and laboratory animal support services, as well as preclinical and clinical support services, to help our global partners accelerate their research and drug development efforts. Our offerings span the entire drug development process, from discovery through market approval, forming a seamless partnership throughout the process. Website.
Fish & Richardson PC is one the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S. We help biotechnology companies identify, create and protect intellectual property, including patents, trademarks and trade secrets. The firm’s clients include large and small companies, universities, hospitals, individuals and investment firms. We also counsel clients on technology transfer matters and regulatory issues that govern biotechnology products both in the U.S. and abroad. Website.
X-Rx Discovery, Inc.
X-Rx Discovery specializes in bench to IND development of therapies for oncological, immunological and metabolic diseases. The company leverages its expertise in medicinal chemistry, assay development and preclinical POC to rapidly advance high value programs. X-Rx maintains a critical focus on therapeutic differentiation, developing unique profiles and prosecuting targets once thought to be intractable. This unique combination of skills and attributes drives corporate strategy, and has positioned the company for long-term growth and success.
Xenetic Biosciences focuses on developing next generation therapeutics for Orphan Diseases. We have three patented platform technologies available for the development of therapies, PolyXen, ImuXen and Oncohist. Website.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick attended a digital health gathering today in accelerator HealthXL’s headquarters in Trinity Technology and Enterprise Campus in Dublin. Link
2) MHT and BBJ honor 20 Women to Watch for 2013 (slide show) - Mass High Tech – 5/10/2013
More than 300 people in the high tech and life sciences community gathered Thursday morning to applaud the accomplishments of 20 local women who are making a difference in the local technology and life sciences scene in Massachusetts. Link
3) Covidien, others join together to find jobs for vets – Mass High Tech – 5/14/2013
Massachusetts has a thriving life sciences cluster, and there continues to be rapid growth in the sector. That’s why six of the state’s life sciences businesses are working together to fill some of those employment opportunities by recruiting and mentoring veterans. Link
4) Human Immune-Boosting Cancer Drugs Seen Extending Lives - Bloomberg – 5/13/2013
Merck & Co. (MRK), Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) and Roche Holding AG (ROG) have opened a new front against cancer with the next generation of experimental drugs that use the human immune system to seek and destroy tumor cells. Link
5) Sequester Hits Mass. Medical Industry On Multiple Fronts - 90.9 wbur- 5/17/2013
The Budget Control Act of 2011, better known as sequestration, has been law for more than a month now. And for months we’ve been reporting on the ripple effects the automatic federal budget cuts are having — or will have — in Massachusetts. WBUR’s Bruce Gellerman reports on the impact on the medical industry in the state, which is being hit not just on the research side, but also the patient care side. Link