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March 2006

Supreme Court to hear MedImmune case

Supreme Court to hear MedImmune case
Associated Press

GAITHERSBURG, Md. - The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear a case on whether drug-maker MedImmune Inc. has the right to sue rival Genentech Inc. over a lucrative drug patent.

MedImmune claims San Francisco-based Genentech and British biotechnology firm Celltech R&D Ltd. improperly schemed to obtain a patent on antibody technology, allegedly in violation of antitrust laws. MedImmune wants the patent invalidated.

Full story.

April 19: First Annual Wisconsin Stem Cell Symposium

The First Annual Wisconsin Stem Cell Symposium will be held April 19, 2006 at the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center (BTC), 5445 East Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI.

Focusing on neural stem cells and the brain: This symposium brings together some of the leading researchers interested in how stem cells produce neurons and other types of cells found in the brain. Our
understanding of this process may provide important information for the future treatment of neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS. Highlighted issues are:

• Human embryonic stem cells and neuronal production

• The mechanisms of neural stem cell fate choices

• The importance of adult neural stem cells in health and disease

• Using stem cells to deliver drugs to the brain

Link for more information.

April 20 and 21: Fifth Annual International Bioethics Forum: Clones and Chimeras

The Fifth Annual International Bioethics Forum: Clones and Chimeras which will be held April 20-21, 2006 at the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center (BTC), 5445 East Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI.

The Forum has been approved for 12 WI CLE credits.

Focusing on the interface between molecular biology, medical applications and ethics, keynote presentations and break-out sessions are designed to facilitate participants’ understanding of:

• Current scientific research that utilizes uses chimeras or clones

• Ethical issues related to this research and its potential applications

• The diversity of viewpoints regarding these issues

• The complexities involved in both the scientific and ethical dimensions of these topics

Link for more information.

Bush sees energy ideas at work

Bush sees energy ideas at work
Tour of Johnson Controls highlights battery research
Posted: Feb. 20, 2006

Improved batteries for hybrid cars, new nuclear power plants and greater use of ethanol can help break America's addiction to oil, President Bush said here Monday.

Visiting both Milwaukee area offices of Johnson Controls, a corporation that helps companies save energy, Bush said the federal government can help accelerate development of technologies that can reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil.

Bush declared that America's dependence on oil is a "national security problem" as well as a challenge to the economy and Americans' quality of life.

Full story.

Aberrant Stem Cells and Cancer

Stem cells might be key to cancer
Research could shape new treatments
New York Times
Posted: Feb. 20, 2006

One day, perhaps in the distant future, stem cells may help repair diseased tissues. But there is a far more pressing reason to study them: Stem cells are the source of at least some, and perhaps all, cancers.

At the heart of every tumor, some researchers believe, lie a handful of aberrant stem cells that maintain the malignant tissue.

The idea, if right, could explain why tumors often regenerate even after being almost destroyed by anti-cancer drugs. It also points to a different strategy for developing anti-cancer drugs, suggesting they should be selected for lethality to cancer stem cells and not, as at present, for their ability to kill just any cells and shrink tumors.

"I think this is one of the most interesting developments in cancer research in the last five years," said Robert Weinberg, a cancer geneticist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. "I think more and more people are accepting it, and evidence is accumulating that cancer stem cells exist in a variety of tumors."

Full story.

DNA testers

DNA testers
Judy Newman 608-252-6156

When you walk into one of Madison's many young biotechnology companies, sometimes what you don't see is as significant as what you do see.

NimbleGen Systems may be an example of that.

There is no fancy new building. NimbleGen, at 1 Science Court, is on the older side of University Research Park (east of Whitney Way). The do-it-yourself "front lobby" - more like an office-sized dent in the wall - consists of a few chairs and a small table with a phone on it, from which visitors ring up the employees they're seeking.

But that may just show that NimbleGen is not a company that's about window-dressing. In fact, some say NimbleGen could be one of Madison's next breakout success stories.

"I think this company is on a great trajectory right now," said John Neis, senior partner with Venture Investors, a Madison venture capital firm that's invested in NimbleGen. "I have very, very high hopes for them. ... This could be a home-run company."

Established in 1999, NimbleGen already has amassed $50 million from private investors and venture capital firms, from as far as New York and San Francisco. It has 80 employees, about 30 of them in Reykjavik, Iceland, where NimbleGen has its biotech factory, and a handful in Waldkraiburg, Germany, near Munich.

Full story.

GE Healthcare opens new space in Tosa

Setting up shop
GE Healthcare opens new space in Tosa
Posted: Feb. 14, 2006

GE Healthcare officially opens a new site in Wauwatosa today in a move that marks another milestone in its longstanding commitment to southeastern Wisconsin.

The $85 million building in the Milwaukee County Research Park will be the global headquarters for two of GE Healthcare's six business units - clinical systems and interventional, cardiology and surgery. It also will be the location for GE Healthcare's information technology department.

Full story.

Robots are saving American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan

Robots are saving American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan
By Robert S. BoydKnight Ridder

NewspapersWASHINGTON -The Defense Department is rapidly expanding its army of robot warriors on land, air and sea in an effort to reduce American deaths and injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We want unmanned systems to go where we don't want to risk our precious soldiers," said Thomas Killion, the Army's deputy assistant secretary for research and technology.

Robots should take over many of the "dull, dirty and dangerous" tasks from humans in the war on terrorism, Killion told a conference of unmanned-system contractors in Washington last week.

Despite doubts about the cost and effectiveness of military robots, the Defense Department's new Quadrennial Defense Review, a strategic plan that's updated every four years, declares that 45 percent of the Air Force's future long-range bombers will be able to operate without humans aboard. No specific date was given.

One-third of the Army's combat ground vehicles are supposed to be unmanned by 2015. The Navy is under orders to acquire a pilotless plane that can take off and land on an aircraft carrier and refuel in midair. Robotic submarines also are planned.

The Pentagon is doubling the number of Predators and Global Hawks, unmanned surveillance aircraft that have been prowling the skies since before the Iraq war began.

Full story.

Abbott Labs might have plans in Kenosha County

Abbott Labs might have plans in Kenosha County
Company won't discuss its intentions, but Doyle confirms development talks
Posted: Feb. 12, 2006

Pleasant Prairie - Global pharmaceutical maker Abbott Laboratories Inc. has purchased nearly 500 acres just west of I-94 in Kenosha County and is negotiating a state financing package to develop the property.

Abbott, based about 15 miles south of Kenosha County in suburban Chicago, has purchased 467 acres for $34.9 million, according to documents filed with the Kenosha County register of deeds. The parcels are in the northwest quadrant of the I-94/Highway Q interchange, in the village of Pleasant Prairie and the town of Bristol.

A developer not involved with the project estimated that the site is large enough to hold offices and manufacturing facilities that employ thousands of people.

Full story.

Oshkosh Truck testing hybrid truck for military, urban use

Trucks made with power to spare
Oshkosh Truck testing hybrid truck for military, urban use
Posted: Feb. 12, 2006

When floodwaters rose around Charity Hospital in New Orleans, power lines were down and drainage pumps languished.

The hospital basement was flooded, water was 4 feet deep in the street, and doctors used canoes to bring in supplies.

Following Hurricane Katrina, conditions in the city's largest hospital deteriorated rapidly.

More than 1,100 miles away, Oshkosh Truck Corp. wanted to help with hurricane relief and further test a hybrid, diesel-electric truck it was developing for military and civilian applications. The ProPulse hybrid truck's generator can provide power for a small airport, a field hospital or a military command post.

Full story.