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An aerial view of Roche Diagnostics Penzberg in Bavaria, Germany
Photo courtesy of Roche
oche announced in December it would invest more than €200 million (US$266 million) in diagnostics production and create 50 new jobs at its Penzberg biotechnology center near Munich. Plans call for the 26,000-sq.-m. (279,870-sq.-ft.) Diagnostics Operations Complex II to be operational in December 2014.
“This investment in meeting global demand for immunoassays is further evidence of the success of our personalised healthcare strategy,” said Roland Diggelmann, COO of Roche’s Diagnostics Division. “Today’s diagnostics make it possible to detect and differentiate the causes and triggers of chronic illnesses and acute conditions with greater precision than ever before. Modern diagnostic systems can test blood samples from up to 1,000 patients an hour and deliver highly accurate results. Based on laboratory tests, doctors are able to prescribe timely, targeted care for their patients. The new facility will ensure that we can continue to meet the rising demand for reagents.”
Located in Bavaria, and with a work force of nearly 5,000 people, Roche Penzberg is the Roche Group’s largest European site for biotech R&D and production, and the only Roche site combining R&D and production facilities for both the Pharmaceuticals and the Diagnostics Division.
Wondering what future models for biopharma funding might look like? Take a look at the activities of TVM Capital Life Science, which operates from offices in Munich, Boston and, most recently, Montreal, where last summer it was the main investor in Canada’s largest life sciences fund ($150 million). In October, the firm announced an official partnership with Eli Lilly and Co.’s own vision for the pipeline of the future: Chorus, a global, early‐phase drug development network that focuses on designing and executing lean and highly focused development plans that cost-effectively progress potential medicines from candidate selection to clinical proof‐of‐concept.
Construction continues on the J. Craig Venter Institute’s new JCVI Sustainable Laboratory in La Jolla, Calif. JCVI’s new building will be located on land leased from UCSD at the Scripps Upper Mesa. The building will support 125 scientists and other staff to further the Institute’s goals in genomic research and policy. The 45,000-sq.-ft. (4,180-sq.-m.) facility will be comprised of laboratory, office / administrative, and meeting spaces, with a partially below-grade parking structure.
From left, Thomas R. Voss, chairman, president and CEO, Ameren; Donn Rubin, president and CEO, BioSTL; and Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor, Washington University, and a member of the BioSTL board of trustees.
On Jan. 17, St. Louis-based utility Ameren Corp. presented a check for $100,000 from the Ameren Corporate Charitable Trust to BioSTL, a regional organization that builds regional capacity and fosters collaborative efforts to advance innovation, entrepreneurship, and new company creation in the St. Louis area’s plant and medical biosciences sectors.
“Ameren’s generous donation will help BioSTL scale up efforts to support entrepreneurs and foster collaborative efforts with local partners to advance the bioscience cluster in St. Louis,” said Donn Rubin, BioSTL president and CEO. “In addition, the Ameren donation will fund pre-seed and seed investments and support for newly-created enterprises carried out by BioSTL’s venture development organization, the BioGenerator. These early-stage investments will help transform innovations into new St. Louis companies and new jobs.”
“As a major employer in Missouri and Illinois, Ameren is keenly aware of what it takes for St. Louis to compete for new businesses and jobs,” said Thomas R. Voss, chairman, president and CEO of Ameren and chairman of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA).
“BioSTL is helping to build a strong environment for new life science companies in the St. Louis region, many of which will stem from innovations and discoveries created by researchers affiliated with Washington University and our region’s other world-class research universities,” said Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, a member of the BioSTL board of trustees. “Ameren’s support of BioSTL is just one more visible sign of the immense commitment and generosity of the St. Louis business community to securing its own economic future, which will benefit the entire region for generations.”
The momentum, as well as some stabilizing diversity, continues at BioMed Realty Trust, which earlier this month saw Boston-based Richards Barry Joyce & Partners broker four new leases on its behalf in Cambridge, Mass., to Algeta US, LLC, Canon USA, Luminoso, LLC and Smartleaf, Inc. Only one of the firms (Algeta) is a life sciences company. According to research by RBJ&P, the Cambridge submarket consists of more than 10.5 million sq. ft. (975,450 sq. m.) of office space and was 7.8 percent vacant, as of the quarter ended December 31, 2012.
Here the REP technique is used to arrange bacteria into a specific pattern. The technique may be used as a tool for nanomanufacturing because it shows promise for the assembly of suspended particles, called colloids. The ability to construct objects with colloids makes it possible to create structures with particular mechanical and thermal characteristics to manufacture electronic devices and tiny mechanical parts.
Image courtesy of Purdue University
Researchers at Purdue University have demonstrated a new technology that combines a laser and electric fields to create tiny centrifuge-like whirlpools to separate particles and microbes by size, a potential lab-on-a-chip system for medicine and research. Earlier this month, the university announced that rapid electrokinetic patterning (REP) could bring innovative sensors and analytical devices for lab-on-a-chip applications, or miniature instruments that perform measurements normally requiring large laboratory equipment. “REP is a potential new tool for applications including medical diagnostics; testing food, water and contaminated soil; isolating DNA for gene sequencing; crime-scene forensics; and pharmaceutical manufacturing,” said a Purdue press release.
Much of the research has been based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park, in collaboration with Prof. Joseph Irudayaraj's group in the Bindley Bioscience Center.
The Beloit Health System announced an $11.6-million consolidation and integration of two separate but related cancer treatment facilities into one 18,000-sq.-ft. Cancer Center, affiliated with UW Health, in Beloit, Wis. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2013, with a December 2013 opening date. According to James Otterstein, Rock County Economic Development Manager, “The health care industry remains a strong economic engine for the Janesville-Beloit MSA.”
The schematic map below illustrates the concentration of life sciences firms in Orange County, Calif., and the predominanceof medical device companies in the area. A report from the California Healthcare Institute entitled “2011 California Medical Technology Industry” stated, “California is home to more than 1,300 medical technology firms, more than any other state in the nation. There are more than 107,000 medical technology jobs in California, which pay an average wage of nearly $60,000. It is the largest segment (40 percent) of the total 268,000 California life sciences (medical technology, biopharmaceuticals, academic research, etc.) jobs.