aryland's life sciences economy got two big boosts in early December.
First, on Dec. 4 during a trade mission to Brazil, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced that Brace Pharmaceuticals, an investment company created by EMS S/A, Brazil’s largest domestic pharmaceutical company, has opened its U.S. headquarters in Montgomery County and plans to invest $200 million in the new operation.
Located in the Rockville Innovation Center, the company is focused on the late stage clinical development of pharmaceutical products with the potential for near-term commercialization. Brace invests in research and development companies’ efforts to successfully complete their clinical trials and seek FDA marketing approval. Brace recently entered into its first venture investment in a U.S. company with Gliknik, a Baltimore-based biopharmaceutical company that is creating new therapies for cancer and immune disorders.
The announcement came after Governor O’Malley visited EMS headquarters near São Paulo and met with the company’s owner and chairman, Carlos Sanchez and its vice president of strategy and operations, Vinzenz Plorer, a member of the Maryland delegation to Brazil.
“By establishing Brace’s operations in Rockville, Maryland, we have access to one of the U.S.’s top life sciences communities,” said Plorer. “There is a talented pool of industry experience to draw upon as we expand our footprint. Moreover, there is established infrastructure and support from companies, universities, NIH and FDA.”
Governor O’Malley also announced that DK Diagnostics, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based biotech company, is planning to expand its presence in Maryland, invest $1 million in the new operation and grow to 20 employees over the next two years. Founded in 2004, the company manufactures and markets a parasite testing kit called PARATEST. Currently, the company has four employees in an office in Frederick and recently began manufacturing the product in Maryland.
On Dec. 11, MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm, and The Johns Hopkins University further reinforced the R&D environment in the state by announcing they have entered into a five-year $6.5-million research collaboration. Each party will contribute funding, personnel and materials to address important scientific questions and exchange knowledge through joint research efforts, training programs and access to specialized knowledge, facilities and equipment.
“We believe this significant collaboration with Johns Hopkins University will create a new standard on how academia and industry can work together,” said Dr. Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune. “Our partnership with this prestigious research university will leverage each organization’s strengths, advance research in critical therapeutic areas and strengthen Maryland’s presence as a growing hub in the bioscience industry.”
The joint research projects will focus on MedImmune’s therapeutic areas of interest, including cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity; infectious disease and neuroscience.
“We look forward to working alongside a company that embodies our own commitment to novel research and to bringing the benefits of drug discovery to patients in need,” said Ronald J. Daniels, president of The Johns Hopkins University. “Our relationship with MedImmune will provide our scientists and students with new opportunities to play a leading role in advancing science and improving global health outcomes.”
“We are excited about the opportunity for our scientists to collaborate with MedImmune researchers to accelerate the development of new therapies to treat a variety of serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and certain types of cancer,” said Landon King, executive vice dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We believe that by working together to leverage the strengths of each organization, we can make significant advances.”
The initiative is one of several regional collaborations by MedImmune to actively work with leading research institutions and the state to advance Maryland as a top bioscience cluster, foster innovative science and ensure accelerated development of key medicines.