Thursday, January 31, 2008

VA, MD and DC Join Forces on Innovation and the Environment

Governor Kaine Announces Participation in Chesapeake Crescent Partnership
– States, District of Columbia, and federal government form collaborative to increase the region's global competitiveness –

WASHINGTON, DC – The Chesapeake Crescent Initiative was formally introduced today at the U.S. Capitol as heads of government from Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, along with senior members of Congress, announced their commitment to work together to raise the prosperity of the region and increase its global competitiveness. The goal of the Initiative is to focus on four areas: Regional Collaboration; Environment/Energy; Innovation/Economy; and, Secure and Sustainable Development.

Participating in its public debut were Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, U.S. Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty.

“In the 21st Century economy, we know that regions, not artificial political boundaries, compete for talent and capital,” Governor Kaine said. “The Crescent is an important effort to leverage our world-class research strengths, knowledgeable workforce, and robust business climate to deliver high-paying jobs for generations to follow.”

“The Greater Washington Region is home to a tremendous number of resources --first-rate institutions of higher learning, prominent businesses, an incredibly well educated populace, a diverse economy, and the federal government and its multitude of world-class science and research facilities,” said Congressman Hoyer. “To maximize these assets, capitalize on obvious synergies, and effectively compete in the global economy, the region’s public and private sector leaders must work together across jurisdictional boundaries. That is the goal of the Chesapeake Crescent. I am a strong supporter of this exciting collaboration, and I look forward to working together as we look to tackle the tough issues that lie ahead.”

Governor O’Malley said, “The Chesapeake Crescent Initiative is an innovative approach that will help us work more closely with our neighbors to identify regional solutions to some of our shared challenges. By pooling our resources, we hope to be able to find long-term solutions to some of the pressing environmental, transportation and economic challenges that we all face separately every day.”

“This is the kind of outside-the-box collaboration that can have a long-lasting impact on our entire region,” said Congressman Davis. “To remain competitive in the global economy, we need to discard obsolete divisions between government and the private sector and join forces to position our region where it belongs: at the forefront of innovation, competitiveness, and wise environmental stewardship.”

Mayor Fenty said, “To build a truly globally competitive region, we have to think across jurisdictional lines when it comes to building a more green and sustainable economy, driving innovation and investment and making our transportation network more efficient and effective.”

Plans for the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative, a first in the region and the nation, have been years in the making. For its co-founders and vice chairmen Herb Miller and George Vradenburg, the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative is the instrument that will integrate the valuable resources of the region, addressing the challenges of the 21st Century for clean energy, environmental planning, harnessing intellectual and entrepreneurial assets, producing efficient transportation and workforce housing. This requires collaboration by the leaders of government supported by the private-sector entrepreneurial talent of the region. The long-term goal is to create a sustainable framework of regulatory and investment actions to ensure the areas promise and apply solutions to its challenges.

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NASA: We Need More Students Engaged in Math & Science

From the Daily Press:

NASA Langley wants more science students for program

By HUGH LESSIG

804-225-7345

2:51 PM EST, January 30, 2008

RICHMOND

Lesa Roe, the director of NASA Langley Research Center, is proud that Virginia is one of four states with access to Earth's orbit, thanks a certain launch pad at Wallops Island.

Now she and her colleagues hope to explore the mysterious recesses of the Virginia state budget in search of that elusive quantity known as cash.

Officials from NASA and other sectors of the aerospace industry came to the General Assembly on Wednesday to announce the creation of a scholarship program aimed at high school juniors. Managed by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the program will employ a space-exploration theme to attract students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

NASA is funding the pilot program this year with $250,000, which will reach 40 students. But backers of the program want the General Assembly to up the ante. They are requesting about $1.1 billion in the upcoming two-year budget to reach hundreds more students.

Legislators are scrambling to pay for expensive reforms in mental health and are debating a possible expansion of preschool. Tax revenues are coming in below estimates due to the slowing economy.

It is a tight year," Roe said, "but I think we've heard from the General Assembly that this is one of those critical issues."

The lack of people is the problem. The aerospace work force is rapidly aging, and "colleges and universities are turning out far too few engineers and aerospace graduates to fill the prospective vacancies," Roe said.

The scholars program will consist of an interactive course offered over the Internet and a six-day science academy hosted by Langley in Hampton. At the academy, students will divide into teams and design a mission to Mars.

If the budget amendments come through as submitted, the program could reach 300 students via the Internet courses and 140 with the academy.

The program is modeled on a successful NASA-based initiative designed at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

A number of Hampton Roads legislators are backing the budget request, which is sponsored by Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, and Del. Harvey Morgan, R-Middlesex.

It also has support from two Newport News Republicans: Del. Glenn Oder and Del. Phil Hamilton, who is vice chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee.

Two area Senate Democrats, Mamie Locke of Hampton and John Miller of Newport News, have also signed on.

Del. Joe May, R-Loudoun, an engineer who holds a number of patents, is considered one of the General Assembly's authorities on technology issues. He strongly supports shining the light on students who are future leaders in the aerospace industry.

"It will focus the attention on them in the same way that we tend to focus on the kid who can throw a football fifty yards or run a four-four 40," he said. "I'd like to see the program be even larger than it is."

Besides the Langley Research Center in Hampton, NASA has the Wallops Flight Facility that focuses on sub-orbital and small orbital payloads and provides a test-site for other launch methods.

Incubator Grads Find Lab Space Costly

From the Frederick News...

Incubator graduates find lab space costly
Originally published January 31, 2008


By Jon Stewart

Biotech companies that leave the cozy confines of a technology incubator find a costly path in securing new lab space.

A study by the Maryland Technology Development Corp., or TEDCO, released Monday finds that many incubator graduates, particularly biotechnology companies, cannot afford the costs when they leave, said Michael Dailey, executive director of the Frederick Innovative Technology Center in Frederick.

FITCI has two campuses, one at Hood College and one on Metropolitan Court that help new and emerging technology companies rent affordable space, including labs; the incubator also offers administrative help, business consulting and access to funding.

From April to September a TEDCO-funded study investigated the economic impact of Maryland's 18 technology incubators.

The study was conducted by RTI International, of North Carolina. RTI surveyed 359 incubator clients and graduates; 45 percent responded.

The difficulties incubator graduates face after graduation was included in the questionnaire.

"The study confirms what we already suspected," said Ren┼Że Winsky, TEDCO's president and executive director. "Graduates, particularly biotechnology firms, often cannot afford their own office and wet lab spaces."

From infancy to adulthood

A biotechnology company often gets started in an incubator, develops a product with some success, and lands some service or product revenue, Dailey said.

"Once the companies meet the requirements to graduate, they have to find an outside location, and lab space is very costly for a small biotechnology company."

Dailey said that one FITCI graduate needed 10,000 square feet of lab space. "The cost after renovation would have been $150 a square foot, that's $1.5 million," Dailey said.

These small companies need a TEDCO buffering program to help them, Dailey said.

Working on solution

The Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board has several groups working on this problem, Winsky said.

The advisory board was created during the 2007 Maryland General Assembly session to develop a strategic plan for biotechnology in Maryland. The 15 members represent federal agencies, biotechnology businesses, and universities, and one member comes from the general public.

Winsky serves on the board.

The board is evaluating whether money should be set aside strictly for post incubator firms so they can afford to stay one to two years in a business accelerator before they are ready for commercial space, Winsky said.

Business accelerators house technology firms for the short term, although the time varies, she said.

Information technology companies might become self-sufficient quickly, Winsky said, while biotechnology companies might stay five years in an incubator and five more in an accelerator because of the costs to bring a product or service to market.

Some help

One business accelerator is opening in March -- the biotechnology innovation center at the University of Maryland Baltimore.

The 8,000-square-foot center contains mostly labs and some offices. Some businesses have already signed up, Winsky said.

The center is geared to life science companies that need lab space for a short term, say six months, to get their products to the next step in development, Winsky said.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

DiaKine Wins Patent

Key Patent Awarded for DiaKine Therapeutics’ Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Drugs under development by DiaKine Therapeutics to potentially cure diabetes and reverse its complications have been granted a U.S. patent, the company announced at the 26th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Patent number 7,247,630 covers novel tricyclic compounds that regulate cytokines. Cytokines may mistakenly attack normal organs and tissue and cause diseases such as diabetes and related complications such as kidney and eye disease.

“These drugs were designed to prevent or treat diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, that are affected by intracellular cytokine signaling,” said Dr. Jerry Nadler, DiaKine’s Chief Scientific Officer. “Our research has shown that by selectively modulating certain cytokines with our current library of methylxanthine-based drugs, type 1 diabetes can be prevented or even reversed. This library provides for compounds with a new, non-xanthine skeleton.”

“This patent is an important asset in our portfolio of intellectual property,” said Keith Ignotz, President, and CEO of DiaKine. “It provides for novel therapeutic compounds, pharmaceutical compositions and methods that can limit the inflammatory, or anti-inflammatory, response of a patient without using an immune suppressant or ‘sledge-hammer’ approach to treatment.”

The patent states that the tricyclic compounds are useful for the treatment or prevention of symptoms or manifestations associated with diseases or disorders affected by intracellular cytokine signaling. Diseases claimed in the patent include: chronic inflammatory disease, chronic intestinal inflammation, arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, autoimmune disorder, type-1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, uveitis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus disorders, and acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease.

DiaKine therapies may improve the function of insulin-producing cells and preserve any that remain in the pancreas after initial diagnoses, thereby halting the progression of newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. Those patients with established diabetes may be relieved from the lifelong burden that results from this disease by providing them with new insulin producing cells through either transplantation or regeneration and modulating the immune system with these new medications. Protecting new insulin-producing cells from a new immunological attack may reverse diabetes and prevent the resulting complications associated with this dreadful disease.

About DiaKine --

DiaKine Therapeutics, Inc. is a development-stage company commercializing novel immune modulators initially targeting the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and related complications. These new drugs regulate cytokines, part of the body’s immune system, which mistakenly attack tissue and cause inflammation. The Company designed its first product, IsletLife-LSF Media 1, to improve the viability and insulin producing capabilities of harvested islet cells prior to transplant. IsletLife-LSF Media thus can potentially improve the success rate of the procedure. Additional therapeutics under development by DiaKine include: adjunct therapy to islet cell transplants, halting the progression of type 1 diabetes in newly diagnosed adults, treatment and prevention of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults (LADA), treatment and prevention of insulin requiring type 2 diabetic, treatment and prevention of diabetes complications. For more information, visit www.diakine.com.

Math & Science: It Is Up to Business

Great Op Ed on the "America Competes" legislation...

Friday, January 25, 2008
Math and science: It's up to business
Washington Business Journal - by George Nolen

"The dominant competitive weapon of the 21st Century will be the education and skills of the workforce."

-- Lester Thurow, former dean of the MIT Sloan School

As one who oversees a company built on innovation, the recently signed "America Competes Act" gives me renewed hope that the U.S. will be able to produce enough engineers and scientists at a critical moment in our nation's history. While other countries are challenging America's technological leadership, we've fallen behind in filling the talent pipeline. In a recent study, American 15-year-olds scored below average in science and math when compared with students in 25 other countries, ranking close to the bottom of the international list. The new law doubles the funding for basic research programs in the physical sciences, gives teachers the tools they need to improve math instruction at the elementary and middle school levels and offers lower-income students greater access to Advanced Placement coursework to help them succeed.

As an electronics and engineering company that employs 70,000 Americans, Siemens makes its living off innovations that must sell in an intensely competitive global marketplace. For us, strengthening America's commitment to math and science is a critical business issue that transcends quarterly results. Over the next five years, the demand for scientists and engineers in this country is expected to outstrip the overall growth rate for other occupations by at least 70 percent. Yet to date, as a nation, we are falling far short in preparing the next generation of Americans for these critical jobs. Only one in five U.S. 12th graders scored at or above proficient on the National Assessment of Education Progress science test in 2005. And each year, the U.S. loses $2.3 billion in lost productivity as a result of high school graduates needing remediation in math and other skills in college and in the workplace.

While the new law is a much-needed shot in the arm by government, more needs to be done by the private sector as well. In my own company, we had been providing scholarships to the high school science students whose research projects won the national Siemens competition in science, math and technology. But to make an impact we knew we had to reach a much broader student audience. Now our employees volunteer in fifth-grade science classrooms. And in addition to continuing the high school science competition, our nonprofit Siemens Foundation now provides grants in each of the 50 states to the top male and female students in the science and math Advanced Placement test and to college students who commit to teaching math or science. While a few other companies, notably Intel and IBM, also have programs to promote math and science education, I believe every company that benefits from innovation can contribute to this important national cause.

Those contributions don't need to be financial. Employee participation in science classes and other grass-roots initiatives also sparks interest among younger students. It has been proven that the earlier you reach a child in math and science, the more likely he or she will pursue those subjects later in life. We can't even imagine what next big thing those young people will invent. We do know it will be vital to the future of our country and we do know it won't happen unless government and business work together to restore America's standing in math and science education.

George Nolen is the president and CEO of Siemens Corp., based in New York. Siemens employs more than 500 people in Washington.

Blacksburg's ProGenetics in the News...

From last month...

GTC Biotherapeutics Obtains Licenses to Factor IX, Factor VIII and Fibrinogen
Wednesday December 5, 8:30 am ET

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GTC Biotherapeutics, Inc. ("GTC", Nasdaq: GTCB) has entered into a definitive agreement with ProGenetics, LLC, a private company based in Blacksburg, Virginia, to obtain an exclusive license to develop and commercialize ProGenetics’ recombinant human factor IX, recombinant human factor VIII, and recombinant human fibrinogen for North America, Europe and Japan. ProGenetics is developing production of the human coagulation factors IX and VIII in the milk of transgenic pigs and has patents that cover the transgenic production of human fibrinogen. ProGenetics will receive a non-exclusive license to GTC’s patent in the United States for the transgenic expression of therapeutic proteins in milk to enable the commercial development of these products outside of North America, Europe and Japan. ProGenetics received $500,000 from GTC upon signing of the agreement and will receive approximately $500,000 from GTC in the second quarter of 2008. GTC will also receive a small equity interest in ProGenetics.

“We are very pleased to work with ProGenetics to add factor IX, factor VIII, and fibrinogen to our portfolio of recombinant coagulation factors,” stated Geoffrey F. Cox, Ph.D., GTC’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Together with our program for recombinant human factor VIIa, GTC has a leading position in developing recombinant versions of all the major coagulation factors used to treat hemophilia and potentially other bleeding conditions. Our strategic portfolio of recombinant plasma proteins also includes ATryn®, our recombinant form of human antithrombin, and recombinant human alpha-1 antitrypsin, establishing a broad franchise in hematology and associated genetic disorders.”

ProGenetics will be responsible for the production of the proteins in the milk of their transgenic pigs. GTC will be responsible for manufacturing, clinical development, regulatory affairs, and commercialization activities in its territories.

Hemophilia is caused by genetic conditions in which the patients’ failure to express enough coagulation factors may lead to excessive bleeding. Type A hemophilia is due to the lack of factor VIII. Type B hemophilia is due to the lack of factor IX. The preferred treatment strategy is to provide supplemental coagulation factors prophylactically to avoid episodes of excessive bleeding. The price and availability of current recombinant coagulation factors often allows for use in only limited indications and markets. The aggregate market for plasma-derived and recombinant factor IX, factor VIII, and fibrinogen products in North America, Europe and Japan is currently estimated to be greater than $3 billion annually.

SRI Announces New Workforce Initiative for the Valley

SRI International, Shenandoah Valley Partnership and Other Partners Unveil Regional Workforce Initiative and Comprehensive Report

Project Identifies Needs, Creates Innovative Framework for Regional Collaboration

Harrisonburg, VA.,– January 25, 2008– SRI International and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership today unveiled a new report titled A Master Plan for 21st Century Workforce Transitions in Shenandoah Valley. Developed in partnership with Shenandoah Valley stakeholders, the report includes specific recommendations for preparing the Shenandoah Valley region's students and workforce for 21st century jobs. In addition to the report's release, next steps of a new regional initiative were announced today at a press conference in Waynesboro, VA at 11:00 a.m.

Together with the Shenandoah Valley Partnership, SRI's Center for Education Policy has initiated the Shenandoah Valley 21st Century Workforce Transitions Project–a two–phased initiative to assist the region in preparing its workforce for future economic trends. New, more specialized and advanced skills are increasingly needed in the region as research and development, technology and specialized production opportunities complement a strong agriculture and manufacturing heritage.

"The Shenandoah Valley is blessed with geographic, educational, and quality of life attributes that increasingly attract 21st century business opportunities," said John Sternlicht, senior director at SRI Shenandoah Valley. "The Shenandoah Valley 21st Century Workforce Transitions Project will help both entry-level and incumbent workers prepare for new challenges and contribute to the long-term economic vitality of the region. In the face of global and regional economic change, workers need to 'retool' and 'retrain' for 21st century jobs, many of which require enhanced technical skills."

A Phased Approach

Phase I of the initiative culminates today with the release of a comprehensive report on the education and workforce systems in Augusta and Rockingham Counties, and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton and Waynesboro. Phase II begins today with the launch of a community-driven strategy to address workforce priorities identified in the report.

To assess the current status of regional education and workforce systems, SRI and its partners reviewed extensive regional economic, education and training data. SRI also interviewed more than 160 leaders in local businesses, government, education, workforce, economic development and community organizations.

Among the report’s key findings:

* Shenandoah Valley leadership recognizes that the region is undergoing an economic transition that demands collaborative action to enhance the region's workforce.
* Leadership across jurisdictions and industry sectors is willing and motivated to take action and work collaboratively.
* The region has a strong workforce development infrastructure in place, including numerous higher education institutions.
* The region does not retain enough of its college educated youth and highly skilled workers.
* Most new jobs in the region come from existing businesses. Developing local workforce skills that can fuel business growth and new job opportunities is paramount to a successful economic transition.
* Many of today's students graduate from high school without basic work readiness skills. Those who enter college often require significant remediation.
* Graduates of the region's high schools are less likely to enter college and more likely to go directly into the workforce than young people elsewhere in the Commonwealth.
* Teachers, counselors, parents and school administrators lack awareness of existing training options and alternative career pathways for students who do not plan on attending college.
* Funding for workforce development programs is scarce, competitive, and decreasing.

Regional leaders met in November 2007 to discuss initial findings. Four strategic priorities emerged from meetings in Harrisonburg and Staunton involving representatives from business, community, education and government organizations across the region. The strategic priorities are: enhancing high school student work readiness, supporting youth outside of school hours, enhancing business retention and expansion, and supporting worker advancement.

"This report and initiative will equip the region with a blueprint for dealing with dynamic economic influences on the region," said Sharon Johnson, a senior associate in SRI's Center for Education Policy. "It lays out the challenges, prioritizes needs and, most importantly, provides a framework for moving forward collaboratively."

Phase II of the project forms a new volunteer organization that will develop strategies to address proposed strategic priorities. An executive board of directors, comprised of regional business, educational and government leaders, will recruit and coordinate the activities of two volunteer task forces charged with leveraging existing programs and developing new ones to tackle priority areas.

Initiative directors include:

1. Robin Crowder, Superintendent, Waynesboro Public Schools
2. Ray Griffin, Executive Director, Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission
3. Betsy Hay, Executive Director, Harrisonburg United Way
4. Sharon Johnson, Senior Associate, SRI International
5. Neal Menefee, President and CEO, The Rockingham Group
6. Bill O’Brien, Rockingham County Administrator (Retired)
7. George Pace, Vice Mayor, Harrisonburg City Council
8. Jim Perkins, President, Blue Ridge Community College
9. Carl Rosberg, Executive Vice President, President-Wireless, Ntelos
10. Bob Satterwhite, Executive Director, Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board
11. Jim Shaeffer, Associate Vice Provost for Outreach Programs, James Madison University
12. Michael Stoltzfus, President and CEO, Dynamic Aviation
13. Robin Sullenberger, CEO, Shenandoah Valley Partnership
14. Jeff Walker, CEO, VaLiance Health
15. Karen Wigginton, Vice President for College Relations, Bridgewater College

The first formal meeting will be held in mid-February. Task force recruitment is under way.

"This is an innovative approach to addressing critical workforce issues," said Robin Sullenberger, CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership and a member of the new Transitions board. "Working together, we can embrace the new opportunities of tomorrow and continue to nurture traditional economic strengths that make the Shenandoah Valley so special."

The full report and additional details are available at: www.sri.com.

About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International (www.sri.com) is one of the world's leading independent research and technology development organizations. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, SRI has been meeting the strategic needs of clients for more than 60 years. The nonprofit research institute performs client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses, and private foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships, and creates spin-off companies.

Headquartered in Menlo Park, CA, SRI International operates facilities in Harrisonburg and Arlington, Virginia. SRI operates facilities in other states throughout the United States and in several international locations.

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VCATS, VMA and VaBIO Partnership in the News

Here is an article that outlines the "Dream it -- Do it" partnership in Virginia that unites the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA, the Virginia Biotechnology Association (VaBIO) and the Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills (VCATS).

Making, molding, shaping, praising
Wytheville Enterprise Staff
Wytheville Enterprise: News >
05:13 PM

By WAYNE QUESENBERRY/Staff

Brett Vassey is usually in Richmond this time of year lobbying the General Assembly. The president and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association was in Wytheville on Thursday as keynote speaker at the Joint Industrial Development Authority’s industry tenure awards luncheon.
“Today is about celebration,” Vassey told the audience composed of local industrial representatives, elected officials and JIDA board members. “This is a great opportunity to celebrate manufacturing.”
JIDA Executive Director Alan Hawthorne noted this was the first year Wythe County industries were recognized at a separate awards event. The recognition of companies for their contributions to the community, he said, was previously included in the Wytheville-Wythe-Bland Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership Meeting.
“For the sake of time and more of a recognition for these companies,” Hawthorne stated, “we decided to change the concept. We hope to do it as an annual event.”
Wytheville Office Supply sponsored the luncheon held at the Wytheville Meeting Center.
At Thursday’s luncheon and awards presentation, Vassey talked about the Virginia Manufacturers Association’s role in lobbying for laws and regulations relevant to industrial issues. He also pointed out the association’s commitment to important environmental concerns.
Vassey touched on Virginia’s involvement with the Dream It. Do It. campaign developed by the National Association of Manufacturers. In October 2007, Virginia, he said, became the 11th state in America to lend support to the program promoting manufacturing careers and economic development.
According to Vassey, the campaign seeks to build a strong regional alliance to attract young people to careers in advanced manufacturing and provide them with related educational and training opportunities. The Virginia campaign is co-sponsored by the Virginia Council on Advanced Technology Skills, the Virginia Manufacturers Association and the Virginia Biotechnology Association in partnership with the National Manufacturers Association and The Manufacturing Institute.
Across Virginia and all 50 states, Vassey noted, the skilled worker shortage is reflected in the national 2005 Skills Gap Report commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute. He said more than 80 percent of manufacturers reported an overall shortage of qualified workers that cuts across industry sectors.
Ninety percent of manufacturers reported a moderate to severe shortage of qualified skilled production employees such as machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians, according to Vassey. He also pointed out that 83 percent reported shortages are impacting their ability to serve customers.
“Thousands of high-tech manufacturing jobs are opening in Virginia,” Vassey commented, “and they will require significant skills training and certification if our industry is to remain competitive. Dream It. Do It. Virginia will help align education, workforce and economic growth strategies statewide so that more individuals can be aware of and participate in the great opportunities afforded by careers in advanced manufacturing.”
Vassey also reported his association expects an estimated 46,870 skilled trade jobs to be available in the state through 2010 with nearly a quarter of these job openings driven by requirements. Manufacturing technicians, he said, are expected to experience the largest number of openings, accounting for more than 22,000 of the available jobs.
Following Vassey’s remarks, plaques were presented to the 2007 and 2008 honorees (in five year intervals.
Acknowledged for their contributions over extended periods of time in 2007 were: Atsumi Car Equipment, Brewer Automotive Components and Ryder Systems, five-year award; Cochran Industries, Commonwealth Manufacturing and Development, and Musser Lumber, 10-year award; Wordsprint and Wythe Stone, 20-year award; Coalfield Services and Mt. Rogers Industrial and Development Center, 30-year award; and Acument Global Technologies and Williams Manufacturing, 45-year award.
Recognized for their 2008 contributions to the community over extended periods were: Pepsi Bottling Group, five-year award; Fuel Systems, 10-year award; Horizon Healthcare, Klockner Pentaplast of America, and A&I Mechanical, 15-year awards; P&T Products, 25-year award; Longwood Elastomers, 35-year award; and Crisp Manufacturing, 45-year award.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wired: Unhappy With New Stem Cell Source? Then Stop Having Sex

From Wired Blog Network:

Unhappy With New Stem Cell Source? Then Stop Having Sex
By Brandon Keim January 28, 2008 | 12:52:02 PM

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/01/disapprove-of-n.html


Scientists have produced embryonic stem cells from embryos that would otherwise be thrown away.

The findings, published yesterday in Nature Biotechnology by researchers from Children's Hospital Boston, raise hopes -- again -- of an ethically acceptable source for the potentially miraculous, highly controversial cells.

If the latest cells don't satisfy critics, says a prominent bioethicist, the critics might want to stop having sex.

Embryonic stem cells, or ESCs, have the power to become any other type of cell. They might someday be used to replace diseased or failing tissue. But the best source for ESCs is week-old human embryos. The embryos are destroyed during harvesting, drawing charges of murder from religiously conservative critics. President Bush has limited federal funding for ESC research, and the controversy has slowed ESC progress in the United States.

The last several months have produced a few alternatives to old-fashioned ESCs. Researchers in Japan and the United States made ESC-equivalents from adult skin cells; another group figured out how to get ESCs without harming embryos more than they already are by a common gene-screening technique. However, neither ESC source is ready for prime time: so-called reprogrammed cells aren't medically viable, and the harm caused by blastomere biopsy still provokes ethical objection. Old-fashioned ESC sources are still best; the controversy continues.

Enter the Children's Hospital Boston researchers, who showed that "flawed" embryos, hundreds of thousands of which are produced every year by in-vitro fertilization clinics, can be used to generate embryonic stem cells. The embryos, too genetically defective to be implanted in a woman, are usually discarded; they were previously considered too defective to make ESCs. Since the embryos can't ever become people, and are headed for the incinerator anyways, how could it be wrong to destroy them in research?

I put this question to University of Pennsylvana bioethics professor Arthur Caplan. Said Caplan,

I think it makes eminent good sense. Clinics are constantly putting aside embryos that don't look right or are developing incorrectly. Occasionally those embryos are used in training embryologists. So it seems to me not to be a big moral step to say, "Why not use them for research purposes?"

Some would say they're still disabled -- so they're not persons, but disabled persons. That's a bogus metaphor. They're not disabled, they're inabled. They lack potential. They can't become anything in terms of human growth. Their programming is so seriously wrong that they're not believed capable of becoming a fetus. I think the position that a severely abnormal embryo headed for destruction might not be used in research just doesn't take seriously the moral need for doing some research. It's turning a moral position that might be defensible -- non-destruction -- into a moral fetish.

There's no way you can avoid creating malprogrammed embryos. Nature does it. It's going to happen in the clinic, too. So to object, you're going to have to move toward a position that says, "No sexual activity for fear that we might make malformed embryos naturally." Again, I think it's an incoherent position. In nature, many eggs and many embryos don't work. Of human eggs, about 5 percent work properly. In nature, I believe around 20 percent of embryos work properly. You have tremendous loss of both eggs and embryos. Reprodction is a very difficult thing to make work properly by sexual relations. It fails far more often than it works. If you're going to fetishize the embryos, you're going to say, "I can't have sexual relations because I have to preserve every embryo."

That likely won't prove a popular position, though it would certainly settle the whole stem cell debate in a few generations. (Insert your riff on the Shakers here.)

However, Caplan cautioned that "the very things that make these embryos unavailable for making babies might turn out to disqualifying in terms of whether they can make useful stem cells." The Nature Biotechnology study was an excellent proof of principle, but we still need to see if the cells work.

Icahn Goes to War With Biogen-Idec

From Bloomberg News:

Icahn Targets Biogen With Board Candidates, Criticism

By Luke Timmerman and Elizabeth Lopatto

Jan. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he plans to nominate three people to Biogen Idec Inc.'s board and criticized the company's earlier attempt to find a buyer as ``flawed.''

Biogen refused to let bidders talk to Irish drugmaker Elan Corp., its partner in the multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri, Icahn said today in a regulatory filing. Biogen's sale process also included a confidentiality agreement ``so restrictive'' that it prevented potential acquirers from bidding, Icahn said.

Biogen, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, lost more than $5 billion in market value on Dec. 13 after abandoning its plan to sell the company when it received no offers. Biogen started looking for a buyer in October after Icahn offered $23 billion for the company and said it was worth more.

``Biogen's recent purported attempt to find a suitor was not conducted in a way to enhance the success of the endeavor,'' Icahn said in the filing. ``We believe the process was flawed in a number of key respects and that the process was run to placate us and other large shareholders.''

The company fell 79 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $58.13 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. The stock has gained 22 percent in the past 12 months.

Nominees

Icahn's nominees are Alexander J. Denner, who manages investments controlled by Icahn; Anne B. Young, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School, and Richard Mulligan, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School. Denner and Mulligan are directors at ImClone Systems Inc., a biotechnology company controlled by Icahn, who serves as its chairman.

``We ran what can only be described as a comprehensive, thorough sale process that was in keeping with industry standards,'' Naomi Aoki, a Biogen spokeswoman, said today in a telephone interview in response to Icahn's announcement.

Biogen's board currently has 12 members, four of whom are standing for election this year, Icahn said in the statement. Icahn's group, Icahn Partners LP, and its affiliates also proposed a change in the bylaws to permanently set the size of Biogen's board at 12 members, Biogen said.

Biogen's board said in a statement today it will review Icahn's notice and ``consider it in light of the best interests of all shareholders of the company.'' No date has been set for the annual meeting, which has traditionally been in April or May, Aoki said.

Increased Holdings

Icahn held 12.4 million shares, or 4.2 percent, of Biogen, as of Jan. 25, he said today in a regulatory filing. The investor is known for buying into companies he deems undervalued and pressing for changes or a sale. As of Sept. 30, he owned 8.8 million shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

``I'm sure he's trying to influence the management team,'' Eric Schmidt, an analyst with Cowen & Co., said in a telephone interview today. ``He may also be rabble-rousing to increase awareness that this is still an acquisition candidate.''

Besides questioning the sale process, Icahn said he reserves the right to oppose any bids Biogen may make to buy a smaller company. That could make Biogen less attractive to potential acquirers, Icahn said.

Last year, Icahn increased his holdings of MedImmune Inc. by almost 50 percent before the company agreed to be bought by AstraZeneca for $14.7 billion. Icahn also has holdings in other biotechnology companies, including Telik Inc. of Palo Alto, California, and AdventRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. of San Diego.

Icahn was named ImClone's chairman and five of his associates were elected directors in October 2006 after he engineered a takeover of the company's 10-member board and the ouster of Joseph Fischer as chief executive officer. Denner served as head of an executive committee until last August, when John H. Johnson was appointed ImClone's CEO.

``One big difference is that Icahn owns a much smaller piece of Biogen than he did ImClone, and Biogen has a much more stable organization,'' Schmidt said. ``I just think it's going to be more of an uphill battle as he's a smaller stockholder and the management is more entrenched and stable.''

Barr Labs Takes Lead on Corporate Income Tax Bill

From the RTD:

Bill would reduce tax on makers

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2008 - 12:08 AM

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Companies with manufacturing in Virginia could see significant reductions in their state corporate income tax under legislation proposed in the General Assembly.

The Virginia Manufacturers Association is backing a bill introduced by Del. Kathy J. Byron, R-Campbell, to change how the income tax on manufacturers is calculated. Under the proposal, manufacturers could opt to pay income tax based only on their sales in Virginia.

The income tax is now calculated using a formula that includes sales, property and payroll, a system that supporters of the legislation said discourages manufacturing investments, contributing to the state's loss of 125,000 manufacturing jobs since 1992.

The proposed change, proponents said yesterday, would give manufacturers an incentive to locate or expand here, and keep Virginia competitive with 17 other states that have adopted similar changes to their tax codes.

"During this time of economic uncertainty, we need to be doing everything -- and I mean everything -- we can to encourage companies to do even more business in Virginia and create more jobs," Byron said yesterday at a news conference with lawmakers from Southside Virginia, a region hit hard by job losses in the textiles and furniture industries. The legislation has been referred to the House finance committee.

Supporters said the impact on state tax receipts would depend on how many manufacturers opted for the sales-only formula. If the legislation had been in effect in 2003, it would have reduced state tax collections by $36 million, the state tax department said.

Executives with Barr Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company with a 600-employee plant in Bedford County, said the current tax structure penalizes the company for investing in the state.

"The more we invest, and the more people we hire, the higher our marginal tax rate, which doesn't make sense to us," said Bruce Downey, the company's chairman and chief executive officer. Barr is expanding its plant and plans to add about 200 employees, but Downey said future expansions are more likely if Byron's legislation passes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

HB 1514-- Would Change Virginia's Corporate Income Tax for Manufacturers

Legislation Announced to Bolster
Manufacturing Jobs and Investment


RICHMOND, VA – To improve Virginia’s attractiveness as a place for manufacturers to invest and thrive, legislation was introduced by Delegate Kathy Byron to make the Commonwealth’s tax structure more favorable to business and more competitive with other states.

HB 1514 - Single Sales Factor provides the option for manufacturers’ corporate income tax to be based on sales, rather than the current three-part apportionment formula of sales (double-weighted), payroll and property. This more favorable tax structure is attractive to companies with high employment numbers and significant property. Seventeen states, including two competing southern states (Georgia and South Carolina), have adopted some form of the single sales factor. The change would be effective July 1, 2009.

“Virginia has been voted the #1 state to do business and we are very proud of that distinction,” said Delegate Kathy Byron. “But being the best means that you have to constantly find ways to make yourself better and that’s the main reason why I introduced House Bill 1514.”

“According to a recent economic analysis, Virginia will actually save money over time under this bill because the new hiring and capital that will take place will produce more state and local taxes than we will lose by giving the companies the flexibility to choose the single sales factor system. In other words – the benefits far outweigh the costs,” said Delegate Lacey Putney, Chairman of House Appropriations.

Bruce Downey, CEO of Barr Pharmaceuticals said, “We are proud that Barr continues to expand in Virginia with a $62 Million investment in Bedford County. Delegate Byron’s legislation will only further enhance Virginia’s opportunity to attract additional capital investment to the Commonwealth.”

“The Virginia Manufacturers Association and manufacturers across the Commonwealth applaud this effort to help our industry to compete in the production of world class products in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Rick Higbie, VMA Chairman.

“This legislation continues those positive efforts to strengthen our competitive edge in this increasingly global economy,” noted Speaker Howell. “We look forward to our friends in the Virginia business community being able to expand, grow and create more jobs because of Delegate Byron's legislation.”


# # #

Mass Governor's Biotech Job Growth Predictions Raise Eyebrows

From the Boston Globe:

Job growth prediction raises eyebrows
Patrick sees 250,000 added in life sciences

By Todd Wallack, Globe Staff | January 26, 2008

Governor Deval Patrick raised some eyebrows during his State of the State address Thursday by saying his $1 billion life-sciences initiative would create 250,000 jobs over the next decade - twice as many jobs as the state added from all sources over the past decade.

"On the face of it, it looks huge," said Alan Clayton-Matthews, a University of Massachusetts at Boston associate professor who helps track the state's economy. "I have no idea how these numbers were arrived at."

The state has about 3.2 million workers; 250,000 new jobs would represent an 8 percent increase - on top of any natural growth expected without legislation.

"It sounds very ambitious," said John Bitner, chief economist for Eastern Investment Advisors in Boston, noting the state has traditionally had a hard time attracting workers because of its high cost of living and harsh winters.

Damon Barglow, a healthcare analyst at Eastern Investment Advisors, said it's possible legislation could create as many as 100,000 jobs, assuming the investment is well-targeted and every new life-sciences job spawns several more in other sectors.

But Barglow said even that projection is ambitious. Of Patrick's 250,000 estimate he said: "I don't see how he gets there."

Kofi Jones, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, said the Patrick administration is confident it can achieve the 250,000 new jobs in even less time - by 2015 - if the Legislature approves the proposal without major changes.

"It's a comprehensive piece of legislation that seeks to strengthen the industry on several levels," from academic research to tax incentives for companies, she said.

The administration calculates one-third of the new jobs would be in the life-sciences sector. The sector currently employs 60,000 to 75,000 people. The rest of the new jobs would come in other areas, including retail and construction, as the life-sciences sector grows.

Jones said the agency assumed that for every job created in life sciences, two more would be created in other sectors, a multiple it obtained from Boston Consulting Group. State officials said other studies used significantly higher multiples to calculate the economic benefit of adding life-sciences jobs.

Jones said the administration examined current growth projections and estimated the rates would significantly increase with additional investment. Although Patrick's proposal calls for spending an average of $100 million a year over 10 years, state officials say companies and universities could leverage much of that money to bring in even more dollars.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council and the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council said Patrick's legislation would create jobs, but they aren't sure how many. "We have no projections," said Peter Abair, director of economic development for the biotech council.

There is also debate about whether the $1 billion is calibrated for maximum impact.

Many industry officials predict life sciences will grow with or without legislation. A recent report by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies projected the biopharmaceutical industry will generate more than 12,000 jobs from 2004 to 2014.

The drug industry sponsored the study.

WaPo: Area Schools Heed Science Industry's Warning

From the Post:

Area Schools Heed Science Industry's Warning
PSM Degree Programs Aim to Produce Business-Savvy Workforce to Keep U.S. Tech Sector Competitive

By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 28, 2008; B01

Universities in the Washington region are in the forefront of a movement to train more people to enter science and technology professions and meet what industry leaders call an urgent need to expand the workforce to keep the U.S. economy competitive.

At least eight schools in Virginia, the District and Maryland are offering or drawing up plans for a two-year professional science master's degree. The PSM program is designed to provide more advanced training in science or mathematics -- with a dose of business skills -- and entice more students who receive bachelor of science degrees to stay in the field without having to pursue a doctorate. Most college graduates with four-year science degrees leave the field and don't return.

The PSM degree, sometimes described as a science version of the MBA degree, is being hailed as one of the most promising innovations in graduate education in years. Last year, Congress provided funding for schools to establish or improve PSM programs through the America Competes Act.

"This has national implications for leveraging our academic resources and our professional talent to deliver economic health for the nation," said Richard G. Donnelly, chairman of the department of information systems and technology management at George Washington University and co-director of the school's PSM program.

GWU launched its molecular biotechnology master's program in the fall, and Towson University will graduate its first class of 28 students in the forensic science PSM program in the spring.

American University began a PSM program in 2004 with three branches: biotechnology, applied computing, and environmental science and assessment. The University of Maryland recently launched several offerings, and Georgetown University is sponsoring with Virginia Tech a PSM program in biomedical technology, development and management that will begin in the fall. Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond has a PSM program in bioinformatics.

"I want to join the biotechnology industry, and I looked around the world for the right program," said Mandeep Kaur Gill, who received a bachelor of science degree and a master's in biology in her native India and is in GWU's program.

"This had everything," she said, including opportunities to study science, business, marketing and computer science.

In 1997, as industry leaders complained that U.S. schools were not producing enough properly trained graduates to enter the science and technology fields, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation began to encourage schools to take a new approach.

Providing seed money for master's programs in science and math, the New York-based foundation set guidelines that provide schools some structure but also offer flexibility. Universities have long offered advanced training in these fields. But the program requires more work across disciplines and business training to help make graduates marketable. Sloan left engineering out of its grant specifications because, said Carol B. Lynch, PSM director at the Council of Graduate Schools, "engineers get it and already understand the value of a master's degree."

About 1,300 students are enrolled in PSM programs at more than 50 schools nationwide, officials say. The programs have graduated 1,200. The Washington area has the most programs, Lynch said.

That it took a foundation, and not a school, to get the ball rolling is not entirely surprising, educators said, despite a broad agreement that the country needs more trained scientists.

PSM supporters expected -- and met -- resistance from some educators, who thought the science course requirements were too limited or who did not want PSM students in their classrooms because they didn't think the students had done the prerequisite courses.

In addition, universities are tradition-bound institutions. It can be difficult for schools, especially state-run systems, to get approval to start something new. Schools don't like to force experts in one field to change their focus or unwillingly collaborate outside their discipline.

"In general, institutions of higher ed pay lip service to interdisciplinary studies," said Ali Eskandarian, an associate dean at GWU who oversees its PSM program.

Eskandarian said GWU leaders backed the initiative, which could help boost the workforce for the prospering technology corridor in Maryland and the growing technology presence in Northern Virginia. He said Donnelly and physicist Mark E. Reeves created a true interdisciplinary program, sometimes sitting in each other's classes to offer different perspectives.

Reeves said he teaches the physics component -- the physics of biotechnology -- in an unorthodox way. Ninety percent of physics courses deal with inanimate systems, he said, but his course looks at living systems.

The physics component attracted Srishti Jain, who said she considered programs in California, Boston and elsewhere before deciding on GWU's combination of science and entrepreneurship.

"This is actually the future of biotechnology," she said.

At Towson, officials chose forensic science for the new degree because of the growth of the homeland security industry and the demand for 10,000 more forensic scientists over the next decade, said Mark Profili, the school's PSM director.

The degree was initially confusing to many students, educators say, and might still be.

"People didn't understand what it was," said Christopher Tudge, a professor who directs American's PSM program. "Students wanted to know if they had to get a PhD after this."

He added: "Once the brand-new gets out there and people realize what its specific function is, I think it is going to be a very popular program in all schools."

Cel-Sci Releases Letter to Shareholders

CEL-SCI CORPORATION RELEASES LETTER TO SHAREHOLDERS

VIENNA, VA, JANUARY 28, 2008 – The following letter is being released by CEL-SCI CORPORATION (AMEX: CVM) to its shareholders:

Dear Fellow Shareholders:

Our Company underwent a wonderful transformation last year from an intermediate stage company in its development to a late-stage biotechnology company. We are now one of a very select number of companies that have a completely novel medicine with blockbuster potential ready to go into a Phase III clinical trial. Our position is further enhanced by the fact that we are well capitalized and that we are building our own manufacturing facility close to Baltimore, Maryland. This facility will be capable of producing between $500 million and $600 million worth of Multikine® cancer drug per year, with the ability to triple production within about one year. The construction of the facility is scheduled for completion in the 3rd quarter of 2008.

Company highlights of 2007:

- FDA clearance of Multikine for Phase III clinical trial in head and neck cancer

- Raised U.S. $15 million

- Multikine granted Orphan drug designation in U.S.

- Started build-out of manufacturing facility for Multikine to support upcoming Phase III study and commercial sale

- Started planning and pricing of our global clinical trial designed to lead to marketing approval for Multikine



We expect 2008 to be another very positive year. We plan to contract with one or more Clinical Research Organizations to run our 800 patient Multikine Phase III trial which we expect to start in the last quarter of 2008. It will be run as an open label study (a study in which it is apparent which patients receive Multikine versus those who do not). The open label design will give us the opportunity to get early indications of how successful our study will be.

We look forward to moving into the new facility later this year and we anxiously await the first indications from the open-label Phase III clinical trial with Multikine in advanced primary (not yet treated) head and neck cancer, representing a large unmet medical need and a disease in dire need of new and non-toxic treatments.

Thank you for your continued support. We invite you to visit our new website at www.cel-sci.com to learn more about our breakthrough work in empowering immune defenses to defeat cancer.

MiddleBrook Wins FDA Approval

Congratulations to Ed Rudnic and his team at MiddleBrook! This is from the Washington Post:


Monday, January 28, 2008; Page D02

Just 24 hours after MiddleBrook Pharmaceuticals received approval to market its once-daily amoxicillin treatment for strep throat, the company announced that it would raise $21 million in a private placement of stock.

The Germantown firm took advantage of last week's sharp boost in share prices, which rose 139.2 percent on Thursday following the Food and Drug Administration's approval of Moxatag.

MiddleBrook said it will sell 8.75 million shares at $2.40 a piece, a discount of about 25 percent to Thursday's record closing price of $2.99. The deal also includes five-year warrants to buy 3.5 million shares of common stock at an exercise price of $3 a piece.

Investors in the offering include existing shareholders and new investors.

"We believe the proceeds from this financing will provide sufficient capital to operate our business in 2008 and afford the company greater flexibility and leverage as we seek to complete a strategic transaction over the coming months," Edward M. Rudnic, president and chief executive, said in a written statement.

Amoxicillin has to be taken three or four times a day to be effective. But each Moxatag tablet contains three time-released doses of medicine.

Wyeth to Cut 5,000 Jobs?

From FierceBiotech:

Wyeth mulls 5,000 job cuts

Welcome Wyeth to the layoff parade. The drugmaker is plotting cutbacks, including job cuts that could amount to 10 percent of its 50,000-strong workforce. Because the company is just beginning to hash out the details, no hard numbers are yet available. According to a Wyeth spokesman, the plans will be announced in March.

Wyeth, of course, is facing the same pressures as other pharma companies who've laid off thousands of workers. Take generic competition: The active ingredient in the company's biggest-selling drug, Effexor XR, goes off patent this June, and Sun Pharmaceutical is readying a generic version. Meanwhile, its blockbuster heartburn med Protonix faces a copycat from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which is threatening to launch its version even as the companies dispute its patent protection in court. Wyeth and Teva declared a truce till next Thursday while they try to negotiate a settlement.

And in prepping for layoffs, Wyeth joins a veritable roll call of the biggest names in the business. Merck, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline--everyone who's anyone is doing it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

HGS Stock Tumbles on Bad Side Effects Report

From FierceBiotech:

Human Genome Sciences watched its stock take a dive this morning after an independent data monitoring committee noted lung-related side effects in patients receiving 1200-microgram injections of the hep C drug Albuferon every two weeks. Patients at that dosage level in the Phase III trial are being shifted to a 900-mcg injection every two weeks. HGS says it still expects to have late-stage data on the drug in the spring of 2009, with a marketing application to follow in late 2009. But that was no comfort to investors, who took a 22 percent bite out of its stock as Wall Street in general got off to another rocky start.

Virginia's CIT Gap Funds names new investment advisors

Virginia's CIT Gap Funds names new investment advisors
January 23, 2008
HERNDON, VA--The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced two additions to its GAP Funds Advisory Board and Investment Committee. Eric Koefoot is the newest member of the CIT GAP Tech Fund Investment Advisory Board, while John Uhrin joins the CIT’s GAP BioLife Investment Committee.

Eric Koefoot is an experienced software executive and Internet pioneer, having either founded or served as a senior executive for early-stage Internet companies since 1996. John Uhrin is a venture partner at Harbert Management Corporation with more than 25 years of pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry experience.

“Our GAP Funds successes are grounded in the experience and guidance of successful early stage investment counselors,” noted Peter Jobse, CIT president and CEO.

Eric Koefoot was most recently the founding CEO and Publisher of U.S. News Ventures, a branded internet publishing company.

John Uhrin is active in the technology transfer efforts of numerous universities and a board member or advisors to a number of regional life science focused organizations. Before joining HMC, Uhrin was employed by BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he served as VP of Corporate Development.

CIT GAP Funds is a family of venture funds designed to bridge the gap between "family and friends" funding and early-stage equity investments for Virginia-based technology and life science companies.

On the Web: www.cit.org

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Scientists Produce Embryo Clones from Skins Cells

From the AP & IHT:

Scientists produce embryo clones of 2 men, using skin cells in step toward stem cell goal

The Associated Press
Thursday, January 17, 2008

NEW YORK: Scientists in California say they have produced embryos that are clones of two men, a potential step toward developing scientifically valuable stem cells.

The new report documents embryos made with ordinary skin cells. But it is not the first time human cloned embryos have been made. In 2005, for example, scientists in Britain reported using embryonic stem cells to produce a cloned embryo. It matured enough to produce stem cells, but none were extracted.

Stem cells were not produced by the new embryos either, and because of that, experts reacted coolly to the research.

"I found it difficult to determine what was substantially new," said Doug Melton of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. He said the "next big advance will be to create a human embryonic stem cell line" from cloned embryos. "This has yet to be achieved."

Dr. George Daley of the Harvard institute and Children's Hospital Boston called the new report interesting but agreed that "the real splash" will be when somebody creates stem cell lines from cloned human embryos.

"It's only a matter of time before some group succeeds," Daley said.

Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk claimed a few years ago that he'd created such cell lines, but that turned out to be a fraud.

Dr. Samuel Wood, a co-author of the new paper and chief executive of Stemagen Corp. of La Jolla, California, said he and his colleagues are now attempting to produce stem cell lines from the embryos.

The work was published online Thursday by the journal Stem Cells.

Scientists say stem cells from cloned embryos could provide a valuable tool for studying diseases, screening drugs and, perhaps someday, creating transplant material to treat conditions like diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

But critics raise objections. The process "involves creating human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them for alleged benefit to others," said Richard Doerflinger, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Citing the earlier work in Britain, he also said that as a scientific advancement, the new work was "very limited."

Other objections to cloning include concerns about health risks and exploitation if large numbers of women are asked to provide eggs.

Those objections are one reason that an alternative route to stem cells made headlines last November. Scientists reported a relatively simple way to turn skin cells directly into stem cells. This direct reprogramming carries a theoretical risk of cancer for the recipients of tissue from these cells, however, and many scientists have urged that work continue on the cloning technique as well.

The cloning approach involves inserting DNA from a person into an egg, and then growing the egg into an embryo about five days old before extracting the stem cells. At that stage, the embryo is a sphere of about 150 cells.

In the new work, researchers took skin cells from Wood and another volunteer and produced three embryos with DNA matching the men's. Further DNA testing on one of these embryos strengthened the case that it was a clone, researchers said.

___

On the Net:

Journal Stem Cells: http://stemcells.alphamedpress.org

Information on stem cells: http://stemcells.nih.gov/

WaPo: Senate Democrats Raise Own Allowance

Senators Raise Their Daily Allowance by $29
Delegates, Citing Budget Woes and Fears of Political Retaliation, Say They Won't Follow Suit


By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2008; B06

RICHMOND, Jan. 16 -- At a time of layoffs and salary freezes throughout state government, Democratic Senate leaders have pushed through a $29 increase in the daily allowance given to senators and some of their staff members during the legislative session.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled House said they are not going to follow the Senate's lead because of the budget situation and concerns that an increase could be used against them in a future campaign.

Under the rules approved last week by Senate leaders, senators who live outside Richmond will receive a $169 housing and food subsidy every day that the legislature is in session, including weekends, in addition to their $18,000 annual salary. The increase is effective for the current 60-day legislative session, which began last week.

Last year, when Republicans controlled the Senate, senators received a $140 per diem allowance. Legislative assistants who move to Richmond during the session are also eligible for the money, which is tax free if used for housing.

"All the hotel costs went up, and this was my decision," said Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). "A lot of these young [assistants] can barely make ends meet."

The Senate per diems, which cost taxpayers $773,000 a year, correspond to Internal Revenue Service guidelines for temporary housing costs in Richmond. Under Virginia law, delegates' and senators' daily allowances cannot exceed IRS guidelines, but they can be less.

GOP House leaders have decided to keep delegates' per diem at last year's rate, $135. That means senators will earn about $1,700 more than delegates this year. Delegates are paid $17,640 a year.

"It's going to be tough on our members, but our philosophy is, it is tough to ask groups to take cuts in their budgets and then turn around and do a per diem increase," said House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem). He said that it would cost $360,000 to raise the House allowance to $169.

Because of the slumping housing market, there is a $300 million shortfall in this year's budget. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has ordered an across-the-board 5 percent cut in many agency budgets, which has resulted in a few dozen layoffs. He is also not giving teachers and state employees a raise this year.

On Tuesday, state Finance Secretary Jody M. Wagner told lawmakers that revenue continues to lag behind projections, which has prompted Kaine to suggest that he might have to make additional cuts.

The House's decision to forgo the per diem increase is about more than budget woes.

During last fall's campaign, House Democrats targeted several incumbents by sending out mailers and running TV advertisements that criticized them for supporting a pay raise for legislators. "Danny Marshall opposed increasing the minimum wage while voting to increase his own salary," said one mailer aimed at Del. Daniel W. Marshall III (R-Danville).

Legislative salaries have not been raised in more than 15 years. The Democratic ads were referring to House GOP leaders' decision last year to raise the per diem by $5.

House Republicans were outraged at the ads, saying that Democrats violated a long-standing tradition of keeping per diems and pay raises out of political discussions.

The Democrats "took something that was not partisan and turned it into a political issue," Griffith said.

When they found out this week that the Senate was increasing its per diem, several House Democrats approached Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and other GOP leaders to ask whether they could also get an increase.

"We were like, 'Why? So you can beat us up again?' " Griffith asked.

House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) distanced himself from the ads.

"Every one of us has our own take on what is fair," Armstrong said. "I don't know how much longer we have to talk about a campaign that was over in November. This is the 'o8 session."

Some Democratic delegates are clamoring for the extra money.

On Wednesday, Del. Kenneth R. Melvin (D-Portsmouth) told his House colleagues that he will circulate a resolution supporting a raise in the House, saying that a small amount of money could make a difference in people's lives.

"I don't think this issue should be partisan," he said. "Now is the time for the adults on both sides to get together and work on this issue."

Saslaw said he doesn't blame House Republicans for resisting calls to raise the allowance this year. Saslaw said that Senate Democrats, who picked up the four seats in the election needed to regain the majority, steered clear of using pay raises as an issue because they thought it was an unfair charge to make against GOP incumbents.

"They cut off their own noses," Saslaw said, referring to House Democrats.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

FDA Says Milk from Cloned Cows Safe

FDA Issues Documents on the Safety of Food from Animal Clones
Agency Concludes that Meat and Milk from Clones of Cattle, Swine, and Goats, and the Offspring of All Clones, are as Safe to Eat as Food from Conventionally Bred Animals

After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. There was insufficient information for the agency to reach a conclusion on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep.

FDA today issued three documents on animal cloning outlining the agency's regulatory approach – a risk assessment; a risk management plan; and guidance for industry.

The documents were originally released in draft form in December 2006. Since that time, the risk assessment has been updated to include new scientific information. That new information reinforces the food safety conclusions of the drafts.

In 2001, U.S. producers agreed to refrain from introducing meat or milk from clones or their progeny into the food supply until FDA could further evaluate the issue. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will convene stakeholders to discuss efforts to provide a smooth and orderly market transition, as industry determines next steps with respect to the existing voluntary moratorium.

The agency is not requiring labeling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones, or their offspring because food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals. Should a producer express a desire for voluntary labeling (e.g., "this product is clone-free"), it will be considered on a case-by-case basis to ensure compliance with statutory requirements that labeling be truthful and not misleading.

Because clones would be used for breeding, they would not be expected to enter the food supply in any significant number. Instead, their sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace. At this time, the agency continues to recommend that food from clones of species other than cattle, swine and goat (e.g., sheep) not be introduced into the food supply.

An animal clone is a genetic copy of a donor animal, similar to an identical twin, but born at a different time. Cloning is not the same as genetic engineering, which involves altering, adding or deleting DNA; cloning does not change the gene sequence. Due to their cost and rarity, clones are intended to be used as elite breeding animals to introduce desirable traits into herds more rapidly than would be possible using conventional breeding.
Risk assessment

The risk assessment finds that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and food from the sexually reproduced offspring of clones, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The science-based conclusions agree with those of the National Academy of Sciences, released in a 2002 report. The assessment was peer-reviewed by a group of independent scientific experts in cloning and animal health. They found the methods FDA used to evaluate the data were adequate and agreed with the conclusions set out in the document.

The risk assessment presents an overview of assisted reproductive technologies widely used in animal agriculture, the extensive scientific information available on the health of animal clones and their sexually reproduced offspring, and an assessment of whether food from clones or their sexually reproduced offspring could pose food consumption risks different from the risks posed by food from conventionally bred animals. These conclusions were first presented in draft documents over a year ago. Since then, the agency has updated the risk assessment with data that became available, as well as taking into account comments from the public comment period.

"After reviewing additional data and the public comments in the intervening year since the release of our draft documents on cloning, we conclude that meat and milk from cattle, swine, and goat clones are as safe as food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Our additional review strengthens our conclusions on food safety."
Risk management plan

The risk management plan outlines measures that FDA has taken to address the risks that cloning poses to animals involved in the cloning process. These risks all have been observed in other assisted reproductive technologies currently used in common agricultural practices in the United States.
FDA is currently working with scientific and professional societies with expertise in animal health and reproduction to develop standards of care for animals involved in the cloning process. Although the agency is not charged with addressing ethical issues related to animal cloning for agricultural purposes, FDA plans to continue to provide scientific expertise to interested parties working on these issues.
Guidance for industry

The guidance for industry addresses the use of food and feed products derived from clones and their offspring. It is directed at clone producers, livestock breeders, and farmers and ranchers purchasing clones, and provides the agency's current thinking on use of clones and their offspring in human food or animal feed.

In the guidance, FDA does not recommend any special measures relating to the use of products from cattle, swine, or goat clones as human food or animal feed. Because insufficient information was available on clones from other species, e.g., sheep clones, to make a decision on the food consumption risks, the guidance recommends that food products from clones of other species continue to be excluded from the human food supply. The guidance states that food products from the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed for food are suitable to enter the food and feed supply.

For more information, visit http://www.fda.gov/cvm/cloning.htm.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Atlanta Biotech CEO Fundraiser for Obama

This is from a NYT article...


One of Mr. Obama’s fund-raisers, Kirk Dornbush, president of Iconic Therapeutics, a biotech company in Atlanta, said, “The contributions reflect the simple calculus of the health care industry, making a bet that Democrats will control the White House and both houses of Congress after the next election.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/us/politics/29health.html

Wired Mag: Where the Candidates Stand on Science...


Where the candidates stand on science...

Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have similar science platforms. Each wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, increase research funding and limit political interference in scientific matters.

What do their Republican counterparts say? Below is the across-the-aisle followup to our earlier post on Science's roundup of prominent Presidential candidates' positions on science.

Rudy Giuliani. It's hard to know what Giuliani wants, since he wouldn't let his advisers talk to Science about specific issues. Historically, he's mixed pragmatism and a love of numbers with an ideological preference for non-government solutions. He supports embryonic stem cell research if it doesn't involve cloning and, unique among Republicans, is pro-choice. As New York City's mayor, his science initiatives were boldy framed but foundered because of shoddy follow-through -- a pattern apparently repeated in his run for President, where he has suggested an across-the-board boost for domestic energy production and signaled belief in climate change without spelling out what he plans to do.

John McCain. When scientists say climate change is an urgent problem, the senator from Arizona listens to them; he's made it a central issue in his platform, and over the last several years has drawn the ire of Bush administration officials for criticizing their mishandling of climate change science and policy. He was an architect of the recently-passed energy bill. Like Giuliani, he supports embryonic stem cell research but not cloning; other science issues haven't caught his attention.

Mike Huckabee. The Arkansas governor who once pardoned Keith Richards tends towards personal conservativism balanced by political pragmatism. He's doesn't believe in evolution, but is ambivalent about pushing that belief in schools. His unexpectedly progressive policies on health care earned him liberal praise, and he's framed climate change as a matter of religious conscience; however, his actual climate change proposals emphasize further research over concrete steps.

Mitt Romney. The pro-life Massachusetts governor opposes embryonic stem cell research and isn't certain that people are responsible for climate change, but was instrumental in pushing for commercial biotech in Massachusetts and joined with seven other Northeastern states on a regional CO2-cutting program -- the first of its kind. However, he later pulled out of the agreement and also vetoed an embryonic stem cell research bill. He's pledged to increase energy efficiency research but is otherwise quiet on climate change.

Fred Thompson. Though he's supported federal science projects that benefit his home state, the Tennessee senator seems generally uninterested in science issues. He jumped to ascribe credit for the recent de-differentiation stem cell breakthrough to President Bush's research restrictions and has downplayed the importance of climate change and human responsibility for it.

For the leading Democrats' positions, see this post. I'm also going to contact the candidates excluded by Science -- Republicans Ron Paul, Alan Keyes and Duncan Hunter, as well as Democrats Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden -- for more about their science platforms.


Here is a release from AAS: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/aaft-upc010208.php

From last month...

Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc. Business Unit, Fairfax Identity Laboratories, Gains International ISO 17025 Accreditation for DNA Forensic Services

RICHMOND, Va., Dec 28, 2007 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Fairfax Identity Laboratories (FIL), a business unit of Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc. (NASDAQ Capital Market:CBTE) is pleased to advise the market that it has been granted international ISO 17025 accreditation of its DNA Forensic laboratory. This certifies that FIL has been audited and has met or exceeded all of the international standards for accreditation. The certification covers forensic casework, relationship, and CODIS offender database testing. The accreditation was received from Forensic Quality Services-International (FQS-I), the country's longest established provider of ISO accreditation to forensic science testing laboratories. FIL has held FQS national accreditation since 1997. The new ISO17025 accreditation makes FIL eligible to bid on a much broader array of forensic contract opportunities both nationally and internationally.

"This accreditation is an acknowledgement of FIL's commitment to the highest standards to which we have always adhered. We look forward to continuing our service to the forensic and law enforcement communities," commented Charles Kelly, Director of FIL.

"The accreditation from FQS-I should open new doors for FIL in the international DNA Forensic testing market and establishes us as one of the elite Labs for forensic testing," added Thomas Reynolds, Executive Vice President and Business Unit Manager for FIL.

About Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc:

The CBI group of companies offers cutting-edge research and development products and services to the global life sciences industry. CBI now operates four distinct business units: (1) CBI Services, a discovery phase contract research organization; (2) Fairfax Identity Laboratories, a DNA reference business; (3) Mimotopes Pty, Ltd, Melbourne, Australia, a peptide and discovery chemistry business; and (4) Exelgen, Ltd, Bude, UK, a medicinal and synthetic discovery chemistry business. Collectively, CBI companies employ over 115 staff in world-class laboratories. For more information, visit CBI on the web at www.cbi-biotech.com.

About FIL:

Fairfax Identity Labs ("FIL"), a business unit of CBI, offers comprehensive genetic identity testing, including paternity, forensic, Convicted Offender DNA Index System ("CODIS") analyses and Clinical Genetic testing services. Since 1990, FIL has been at the forefront of DNA profiling techniques and innovations, and has continued to meet and exceed all industry standards. FIL is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks, FQS-I, the New York State Department of Public Health, and is CLIA certified.

Forward Looking Statements:

Any statements contained in this release that relate to future plans, events or performance are forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties as identified in the CBI's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements are generally identifiable by use of the words "may," "will," "should," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "believe," "intend" or "project" or the negative thereof or other variations thereon or comparable terminology. Actual results, events or performance may differ materially. No statement herein should be considered an offer of any securities. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as the date hereof. Specifically, there can be no guarantee that Fairfax Identity Labs will receive contracts because of its new accreditation status. A number of factors, including customer demand, industry trends, armed conflict, and terrorist activities could alter these trends referenced herein. CBI undertakes no obligation to publicly release the results of any revisions to these forward looking statements that may be made to reflect the events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

SOURCE: Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc.

Commonwealth Biotechnologies, Inc.
Dr. Paul D'Sylva
CEO
858-550-0959 Ext. 106

Top 10 Biotech Stocks for 2008

Top 10 Biotech Buzz Stocks for This Year
By Adam Feuerstein
Senior Writer
1/14/2008 12:22 PM EST
URL: http://www.thestreet.com/newsanalysis/biotech/10398390.html

BOSTON -- The JPMorgan Healthcare Conference is always the first biotech investment meeting of the year, and probably the most important in terms of attendance and overall buzz.

Every January, thousands of industry players network "under the clock" in the lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel just off San Francisco's Union Square. Institutional investors elbow their way through gridlocked halls and meeting rooms to hear presentations from biotech companies that hope their stock will be the next to catch fire.

But what happens after the conference ends and all those investors and industry types head home? Is the excitement and enthusiasm sustainable? Do the "hot" stocks of the conference stay hot?

To answer these questions, let's devise an experiment. I've created the Biotech Buzz Portfolio, a list of 10 biotech companies with the best-performing stock prices during the conference, which ran from Jan. 6-10.

Since each of the companies in this portfolio (with one exception) made presentations at the conference and saw their stock price rise significantly during that week, I assume there is at least some correlation between the two events.

That's how I'm defining "biotech buzz" for matters of this test.

I plan to check in with these stocks on a semiregular interval throughout the year to see how they're performing. Can these stocks sustain the early momentum throughout the year? Or, is the buzz transient and of little interest to investors once the memories of parties, crowded hallways and Powerpoint slides fade?

A few words about the "holdings": Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) didn't present at the conference, but nonetheless, made a large splash with its Genzyme (GENZ) partnership announced on Jan. 6, the first day of the conference.

And Isis CEO Stanley Crooke seemed to be everywhere in the hotel, talking up investors and the media. For that reason, I included the company here.

Biogen Idec (BIIB) made the list because I wanted at least one large-cap, profitable biotech stock in the portfolio. Biogen Idec was the top performer in that class, so it replaces Atherogenics (AGIX) for the final spot.

I also limited the portfolio to biotech companies, loosely defined as any company developing drugs (excluding Big Pharma). That means diagnostic companies and medical device firms were not considered.

Since this is the introductory column for the Biotech Buzz Portfolio, here is a brief description of each stock, in order:

Pharmasset (VRUS) : This company develops antiviral drugs to treat hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. The company's stock rocketed recently on positive data from a phase II study of its hepatitis C drug R7128 combined with interferon and ribavirin (the current standard of care for hepatitis C).

R7128 is being developed in a partnership with Roche, and there has been some speculation that the Swiss drug maker could buy Pharmasset outright.

Researchers Create New Rat Heart

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/13/america/heart.php

Researchers create new rat heart in lab
By Lawrence K. Altman
Sunday, January 13, 2008

Medicine's dream of growing new human hearts and other organs to repair or replace damaged ones received a significant boost Sunday when researchers at the University of Minnesota reported success in creating a beating rat heart in a laboratory.

Experts not involved in the Minnesota work called it "a landmark achievement" and "a stunning" advance. But they and the Minnesota researchers cautioned that the dream, if it is ever realized, is still at least 10 years away.

Doris Taylor, head of the team that created the rat heart, said that she followed a guiding principle of her laboratory: "Give nature the tools and get out of the way."

"We just took nature's own building blocks to build a new organ," Taylor said of her team's report in the journal Nature Medicine. The researchers removed all the cells from a dead rat heart, leaving the valves and outer structure as scaffolding for new heart cells injected from newborn rats.

Within two weeks the new cells formed a new beating heart that conducted electrical impulses and pumped a small amount of blood.

With modifications, scientists should be able to grow a new human heart by taking stem cells from a patient's bone marrow and placing them in a cadaver heart that has been prepared as a scaffold, Taylor said in a telephone interview from her laboratory in Minneapolis. The early success, she said, "opens the door to this notion that you can make any organ: kidney, liver, lung, pancreas - you name it and we hope we can make it."

"Doris Taylor's work is one of those maddeningly simple ideas that you knock yourself on the head, saying, Why didn't I think of that?" said Todd McAllister, of Cytograft Tissue Engineering in Novato, California.

His team has used a snippet of a patient's skin to grow blood vessels in a laboratory, and then implanted them to restore blood flow around a patient's damaged arteries and veins.

The field of tissue engineering has been growing rapidly. For many years, doctors have used engineered skin for burn patients.

Engineered cartilage is used for joint repairs. Researchers are investigating use of stem cells to repair cardiac muscle damaged by heart attacks. Also, new bladders grown from a patient's own cells are being tested in the same patients.

Taylor is a newcomer to tissue regeneration. She began her professional career at the Albert Einstein Medical School in the Bronx, investigating gene therapy and then cell therapy. She said she switched to tissue regeneration when she realized that the limiting step in trying to generate an organ was not the number of cells needed, but the complexity of creating a three-dimensional structure. "The heart is a beautiful organ, and it's not one that I thought I'd ever be able to build in a dish," she said.

Her view changed about three years ago when she recalled that cells are removed from human and pig heart valves before those valves are used to replace damaged human ones.

As she contemplated replacing the old rat cells with new ones, Taylor followed another of her mantras: "Trust your crazy ideas."

Progress came in fits and starts.

"We made every mistake known, did every experiment wrong and had to go back and do them right," Taylor said.

She poured detergents like those in shampoos in the rat's arteries to wash out the heart cells and then injected neonatal cardiac cells. The first two detergents she tested failed. But a third concoction led to a clear, translucent scaffold that retained the heart's architecture.

After injecting the young rat heart cells into a scaffold, she electrically paced them and created an artificial circulation as the equivalent of blood pressure to make the heart pump and produce a pulse. The steps also helped the cells mature. Tests like examining slices of the heart under a microscope showed they were living cells.

To test the biological compatibility of the new hearts, the team transplanted them into the abdomen of immunologically unrelated live rats. The hearts were not immediately rejected. A blood supply developed. The hearts beat regularly. And cells from the host rats moved in and began to re-line the blood vessels, even growing in the wall of the hearts.

Taylor is now conducting similar experiments on pigs as a step toward human work.

"Working out the details in a pig heart made a lot more sense" because the anatomy of the porcine heart is the closest to humans and because pigs are plentiful, she said.

"The next goal will be to see if we can get the heart to pump strongly enough and become mature enough that we can use it to keep an animal alive" in a replacement transplant, Taylor said.

As for human hearts, the best-case scenario would be to obtain them from cadavers, remove their cells to make a scaffold, and then inject bone marrow, muscle or young cardiac cells from a patient. The process of repopulating the scaffold with new cells would take a few months, she said.

The body continually replaces its proteins every few months, so the hope is that the body will create a matrix that it recognizes as its own.

One potential problem is that anti-rejection drugs might be required to prevent adverse immune reactions from the scaffold. In that case, Taylor hopes such therapy would be needed only temporarily.

Many things that work in experiments on animals fail in humans because of the species barrier. McAllister, of Cytograft Tissue Engineering, said that in Taylor's case "the principal problem in escalating it to humans is one of scale, not of cell biology, and that is an easier problem to solve potentially."

"If it works," Taylor said, "it means that there'll be many more organs available for transplants."

Because the components of the biologic matrix differ for every organ, Taylor expects that scientists will be able to do tests to answer two fundamental questions: Can a stem cell be placed anywhere in the body and still produce a heart, kidney or other organ? Or must a stem cell be placed in its anatomic position to do so?

Such tests might include taking stem cells from one organ, say, a kidney, and putting them in a kidney, liver or heart to begin to understand whether the stem cells are innately committed to produce kidneys or whether they will convert to produce livers or hearts.