The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Monthly Archives: July 2009

Trends Update — Shifting IP Constituencies: Perkin Elmer and Mylan in India, Branded Generics Everywhere and China’s R&D Budget all Point to Change

world_map_2002In our continuing Trends in 2009 series on shifting IP constituencies, we’ve been following increasing innovative activity in the developing world, and innovator pharma’s increasing moves towards generics and biosimilars.  This week saw updates on both fronts:

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Francis Collins Nominated to be NIH’s Next Director

NIH LogoOver to you, White House press release:

“President Obama said, ‘The National Institutes of Health stands as a model when it comes to science and research. My administration is committed to promoting scientific integrity and pioneering scientific research and I am confident that Dr. Francis Collins will lead the NIH to achieve these goals. Dr. Collins is one of the top scientists in the world, and his groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease. I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.’”

Bonus: See this very well-timed (if not very optimistic) piece in Nature News today on the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the CF gene (by Collins and Lap-Chee Tsui, the latter then at Sick Kids in Toronto).

Bonus #2 — Three Degrees of Francis Collins: I did my Ph.D. in Doug Bishop’s lab. Doug did his post-doc in Nancy Kleckner’s lab. Nancy and Francis Collins were elected to the National Academy of Sciences together in 1993. Ta da! Your turn…

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Allostera’s $17m Deal Shows Canadian Venture Capital Funding is Available, Even as LPs Hold Back in the U.S.

Allostera BannerAllostera Pharma Inc. anounced today that it closed a $17 million Series A round today, funded by four Canadian VCs: iNovia Capital, Genesys Capital, BDC Venture Capital with GO Capital, and Fonds Bio-Innovation s.e.c.

The company is a spin-out of a University of Montreal-affiliated hospital and it has a platform to make peptide drugs that inhibit receptor signalling allosterically (i.e., without inhibiting ligand binding).  The lead product, in early stage trials, is an IL23-receptor inhibitor.

That’s a pretty healthy A round, coming as it does on the same day as Private Equity Analyst released U.S. data showing that U.S. VCs “raised $5.1 billion across 52 funds, down 63% from the $13.6 brought in by 115 funds last year.”

On the third hand, there’s Excel Venture Management’s new $125 million Boston-based fund, which will “focus (sic) its investments on healthcare information technology, services, diagnostics, medical devices, and life sciences platforms with applicability to adjacent industries such as energy, chemicals, defense, and agriculture.”

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Trends Update — Comparative Effectiveness and Personalized Medicine: Study by CAMH in Toronto will Integrate Genetics, PET Brain Imaging and Pharmacology

CAMH logoToronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will use a $2.8 million grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, along with expected Ontario matching funds, for their ambitious neuroIMAGENE initiative.  The neuroIMAGENE program aims

“to combine the power of genetics and sophisticated brain imaging to personalize treatment … for common psychiatric conditions like major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, as well as addictions.”

Specifically, CAMH will compare DNA characteristics across 18 different psychiatric conditions and integrate that data with PET scans showing individuals’ neurochemical changes induced by drug therapies. The idea is to create tools to identify the medication that will work best for each individual’s brain chemistry and genotype,

“helping to avoid trial-and-error prescribing, treatment failure, relapse, and serious side effects.”

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I-131! Getchyer Rrrred Hot I-131 Here! Health Canada Approves Alternate Source for Thryoid Cancer Treatment

683px-Schematicky_atomDraximage has been approved by Health Canada to supply I-131 from South Africa’s Safari reactor to treat Canadian thyroid cancer patients. As the Health Canada press release points out, “[p]roduction of I-131 in Canada was interrupted by the unplanned shutdown of the Chalk River National Research Universal reactor (NRU) in May 2009.” Draximage is a division of DRAXIS Specialty Pharmaceuticals, which was bought by Jubliant Organosys in May 2008.

Update: Good thing too, because the Chalk River reactor may be out of commission through the Fall or even into 2010.

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PubMed Central Comes to Canada (or vice-versa?)

PumMed Central LogoIf you ever read scientific publications, but you don’t have institutional journal subscriptions, you definitely know and love PubMed Central, the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) online repository of free-access full-text papers. Well, get ready for So You Think You Can Publish Canada PubMed Central Canada!

CIHR and the NRC’s Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information are partnering with NLM to establish PMC Canada, which follows UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) as PubMed Central expands internationally:

“PMC Canada will be a national digital repository of peer-reviewed health and life sciences literature, including research resulting from CIHR funding. This searchable Web-based repository will be permanent, stable and freely accessible. … PMC Canada will include a manuscript submission system to enable CIHR-funded researchers to deposit articles that are accepted for publication by peer reviewed journals.”

This initiative has been under way for some time, but it serves as a way to implement CIHR’s recently announced Policy on Access to Research Outputs, under which grant recipients are required to ensure that their peer reviewed publications are freely accessible online within six months of publication.  The NIH has a similar policy, with a 12-month window.

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Monday Deal Review: July 6, 2009

B&W_BigNickelLearn more about Neuromed’s deal with CombinatoRx, check out what MedMira’s been doing with all the cash from its equity line, and find out who’s closed deals and who’s just closing doors in this week’s Monday Deal Review after the jump…

Trends Update — Commercialization by Nonprofit Foundations: Not All Coming Up Roses

An article in Mass High Tech yesterday points to the trend we’ve been following of increasing commercialization activity by non-profits, but looks at things from the foundations’ point of view. While the economic crisis is, as expected, causing companies to seek out more foundation funding, those collaborations are having as much trouble as the rest of the biotech world:

  • The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation had to reclaim rights from Altus Pharmaceuticals, and spent $3 million continuing a Phase 3 trial while looking for a new partner;
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation is putting more money than it planned into its corporate ventures because of the dearth of for-profit investors; and
  • the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has “had to walk away from some really good science” at companies that look “too vulnerable financially.”

The article also has a good list of foundation-biotech collaborations:

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation with Alnara Pharmaceuticals, Epix Pharmaceuticals, FoldRx Pharmaceuticals;

Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease Research with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, FoldRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., NeuroHealing, LINK Medicine and Codman & Shurtleff;

Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation with FoldRx Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation with Tolerx Inc., Smart Cells Inc.

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Trends Update — Biosimilars: Obama Administration Supports 7-Year Exclusivity Period

The Obama administration offered up a 7-year data exclusivity period for biologics, calling it a “generous compromise” in a letter to Rep. Waxman from Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the Office of Health Reform, and Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, picked up by Bloomberg this week.

I’ve had my money on an 8-10 year period for a while now as the compromise between the competing Waxman and Eshoo-Barton bills … The InVivo Blog has a funny take on how a 10-year period might be injected into the dialogue.

BIO points to a post by Prof. Holman criticising Waxman’s 5-year period (now clearly an outlier) and also the patent challenge/enforcement provisions of Waxman’s bill.

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Post-Vacation Brain Dump: VC and Business News

Some suggestions for things to do:

And some suggestions for things not to do:

Post-Vacation Brain Dump: Deal Developments

Some exciting deal news from the week:

And some interesting company news:

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Post-Vacation Brain Dump: Canadian Developments

Here’s a bit of Canadiana to start off the catching up:

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