Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kentucky BioAlliance hosts reception at BIO Conference

On May 20, the Kentucky BioAlliance hosted a reception at the BIO International Conference in Atlanta. More than 200 life science professionals turned out to hear about the exciting developments in Kentucky's life science sector.

Governor Steven L. Beshear continued a long tradition of participating in the annual conference. At the reception, Governor Beshear took the opportuntity to recognize the growth of Kentucky's high-tech sector and discussed the importance of focusing resources on new economy jobs. After speaking the the crowd, Governor Beshear walked around the room and talked one-on-one with the attendees.

This event was sponsored by:
Stites & Harbison
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
Kentucky Seed Capital Fund

Commerce Lexington
Greater Louisville Inc.
Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Plant Based Pharmaceuticals

Kentucky BioProcessing and The Sullivan University School of Pharmacy are hosting a plant-based therapeutics symposium on July 15-16. For more information click here.

The symposium will take place in Louisville and Owensboro, home of Kentucky BioProcessing. Featured speakers include Dr. Charles Arntzen, co-director of the Center for Infections Diseases and Vaccinology, as well as Dr. Yuri Gleba, Managing Director, Icon Genetics.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Sullivan University.

Kentucky BioAlliance Members to Present at BIO

Two Kentucky BioAlliance member companies are presenting at the BIO 2009 conference. Below is more information on the presentations. Stop by and learn a little more about the exciting work taking pace in Kentucky.

Wednesday, May 20 in booth 5924

11:00 AM
Reinventing Plant-based Drug Discovery to Unblock the Pharmaceutical Pipeline
John M. Littleton, MD, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Naprogenix, Inc.

The flow of synthetic drugs from conventional R & D is slowing, eroding investor confidence in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. Leveraging the extraordinary diversity of bioactive metabolites from plants could reverse the trend, but current approaches to plant-based drug discovery are slow and expensive. Applying functional genomics technology to the production of biologically active metabolites by plants could facilitate the discovery and optimization of active compounds in plants, and may challenge synthetic chemistry as a source of novel molecules in the future.

11:30 AM
Self-assembled Nanoneedles for In Situ Measurement and Manipulation of Soft Biomaterials
Mehdi M Yazdanpanah, Ph.D., CEO, NaugaNeedles

A unique nano-fabrication technology has been developed for growing individual nanoneedles of silver-gallium at a selected location and orientation. These electrically conductive nanoneedles provide stiffness that is well-matched to the viscoelastic properties of complex fluids and biological materials. The technology is being integrated into platforms for combined electrochemical and viscoelastic probing of live cells and subcellular organelles within live cells. Specific progress towards this system includes recent demonstrations of using silver-gallium nanoneedle-tipped probes to (1) make precise AFM measurements of the rheological properties of polymeric liquids, and (2) puncture individual live cells and measure viscoelastic response.

National Cancer Institute Announces new SBIR/STTR Initiatives

At a meeting with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), I learned of a few initiatives that are focused on early-stage life science companies. It appears that the NCI, along with the National Institute of Health, are making efforts to make obtaining pre-investor money easier. This is even better for Kentucky companies, since the state will match both Phase I and Phase II investments.

The first step the NCI is taking is to create SBIR/STTR experts within their program managers. In the past, NCI had 50 program managers that would handle a variety of funding programs, from small grants to large research projects. Going forward, NCI will have 8 program managers that are focused solely on the SBIR/STTR programs. This should help streamline the process.

NCI is also implementing a new Bridge program to help ensure projects move smoothly from Phase II (research and R&D) to Phase III (commercialization). The new Bridge program will follow-on to Phase II grants and will award up to $1 million/year for up to 3 years. The award will be used to match any money the companies have raised. I did confirm that state dollars (including matching dollars) will count.

The NCI also mentioned that they are working on a number of programs using stimulus money. More on that as it develops.

BIO International Conference

I am attending the 2009 BIO International Conference in Atlanta. Although it appears that the conference attendance will be down this year, there are a number of biotech professionals walking around downtown. From the list of companies I have seen so far, the conference still promises to provide a lot of opportunity to interact with professionals from across the world.

As interesting news develops at the conference, I will keep the Kentucky BioAlliance members posted via this blog. If you are at the conference and have interesting news to report, please contact me at ben@kentuckybioalliance.org.