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NCBiotech News

  • Wilmington-based contract research organization PPD is observing its 25th anniversary. During the quarter-century since its 1985 founding as a one-person consulting firm by Fred Eshelman, PPD has expanded its services, technologies and geographic reach through acquisitions and organic growth. It went public in early 1996. Today, the firm employs more than 10,500 people -- some 2,000 of them in North Carolina. It has 85 offices, clinics and labs in 40 countries.
  • Research Triangle Park-based Talecris Biotherapeutics has been granted orphan drug status for an aerosol formulation to treat a rare hereditary condition that increases the risk of diseases such as emphysema. The designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is for the company's aerosol formulation of Alpha1-Proteinase Inhibitor. There are no other inhaled versions of the drug to treat the deficiency.
  • Winston-Salem-based Targacept has been awarded a $304,000 grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, the foundation's second to help the firm in the last six months. This grant is to help Targacept develop Parkinson's detectors in nervous system cells -- drug biomarkers that could offer new ways for researchers to diagnose the disease earlier, track its progress and identify who might be appropriate subjects for clinical trials.
  • Wake Technical Community College will soon be better equipped to address the region's growing demand for skilled workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The National Science Foundation has given the institution a $555,680 grant to beef up training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
  • North Carolina Biotechnology Center executives are among the state leaders hosting a group of some 40 scientists from Japan's revered Nagoya University this week.
  • Bio briefs with names making news
  • Cary-based Trana Discovery, a privately held firm which has been helped through its first decade of life with more than $280,000 in loans from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, has started testing its new portable system for quickly identifying pathogens in doctors' offices and hospitals. Trana, a spin-out from North Carolina State University, said it believes its rapid diagnostic platform will identify infection-causing microorganisms, including bacteria and possibly even fungi, in less than one hour.
  • Bio briefs with names making news Rick Williams, chief business officer of The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences, has been named a director of the Research Triangle Park-based nonprofit research organization. More
  • The Hamner Institutes of Research Triangle Park has signed an agreement with the Oslo Cancer Cluster in Oslo, Norway, to streamline the search for new cancer therapies. The formal memorandum of understanding with one of the leading cancer clusters in Europe is to strengthen The Hamner's Global BioScience Gateway for Translational Research and Business Development, which began with partnerships in China.
  • Durham-based Inspire Pharmaceuticals has named Sepracor president and CEO Adrian Adams to succeed Christy Shaffer, Ph.D., as Inspire's new president and CEO. The transition, to become effective next Monday, also puts Adams on Inspire's board of directors. Massachusetts-based Sepracor has concurrently announced a $2.6 billion buy-out of Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma America, effective April 1.
  • Bio Briefs with names making news Jagnnathan "Jag" Sankar, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University, has been named the recipient of the 2010 Oliver Max Gardner Award, the highest faculty honor in the UNC system. More
  • Burlington-based diagnostics and testing giant LabCorp is planning to bring nearly 350 more jobs to a new $4 million billing facility in Greensboro during the next three years. Gov. Bev Perdue said LabCorp will get a $275,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund to support the project.
  • More than 1,200 people gathered at the Raleigh Convention Center to chart out of future of biotechnology jobs in North Carolina.
  • Ever have a problem, and you knew the solution existed, but you just couldn't find it? The same happens in the life sciences, where small companies might have a solution or potential product that a large company wants. At CED's Biotech 2010 on Monday, the Biotechnology Center helped bring those two groups together. A total of 42 companies met with representatives of the big names in the industry, discussing overlapping interests in their development pipelines.
  • A United States Food and Drug Administration advisory committee has recommended marketing approval for Morrisville-based Salix Pharmaceuticals' oral antibiotic rifaximin for treating adults with a neurological disorder caused by chronic liver failure. The recommendation, expected to be followed by full FDA approval, followed a priority review status granted to Salix for the drug.
  • The deadline for companies to apply for participation in the North Carolina Biotechnology Center's Industrial Fellowship program has been extended to Friday, March 5. This program is for Ph.D.-trained scientists interested in transitioning into scientific careers in the industry. It places fellows into N.C. biotechnology companies for two-year fellowships to gain industry-oriented research experience and thus improve their career competitiveness.
  • Pittsboro-based Biolex Therapeutics has raised an additional $10 million in new capital, according to papers filed Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm is developing a controlled-release interferon alpha 2b product to treat chronic hepatitis C. Its trade name is Locteron.
  • Bio Briefs with names making news George Abercrombie, former president and CEO of Hoffmann-La Roche, has been named a director and member of the board's audit committee by Durham's Inspire Pharmaceuticals. More
  • Charlotte-based development-stage biotech company Chelsea Therapeutics International has added about $18.2 million to its coffers in new institutional investor stock sales and warrant issuances. The publicly traded firm said it is issuing 6.7 million shares of stock at $2.72 each and warrants for another 2.3 million shares. The warrants are exercisable at $2.79 per share over the next three years.
  • Five young bioscience companies are among 10 firms that will show off their technologies at a public gathering March 31 on the Salem College campus. The firms were chosen by the Technology Council of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce to present at the yearly Technology Briefing on the last day of the month, at 8 a.m. in the Salem Fine Arts Center on the campus. The bioscience presenters include:

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