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Dec 2010

CT Medal of Science
Nomination materials for the 2011 medal will be sent out mid-January with a return deadline of March 1. more
Events Column
1/19 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
CURE/Yale BioHaven presents Mira Dx. Anlyan Center, 300 Cedar Street, New Haven. more
2/16 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
CURE/Yale BioHaven presents Novatract Surgical. Anlyan Center, 300 Cedar Street, New Haven. more
3/2 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
CURE/Yale BioHaven presents Axerion. Anlyan Center, 300 Cedar Street, New Haven. more
3/22 7:45 am - 5:30 pm
StemConn2011 scientific symposium. Register now! Marriott Hotel, Farmington. more
Getting 2011 right
A message from CURE President Paul Pescatello

2011 will be a year of important decisions. If we get them right we build the framework for a productive and prosperous future. A few missteps, though, and we could see the Great Recession linger on far longer than it should.  

In Connecticut, we have a huge budget deficit ($3.6 billion) coupled with an even larger unfunded state employee pension liability. And as with so many federal policies, the hard work of national health insurance reform is delegated to the states. Mostly this will mean finding revenue to fund a significant increase in Connecticut’s Medicaid bill and making some socio-economic sense out of the health insurance exchanges each state is supposed to devise.  

If we do no more than close our budget gap, fulfill past commitments, and meet newly imposed mandates on the back of business, we will have only a short-lived respite from our budgetary woes. It is essential that we grow Connecticut’s economy — that we implement policies that draw talented people and new business into Connecticut.

Connecticut's bioscience sector, with a solid track record of attracting investment capital and enabling R&D spending, is well positioned to help improve the state's economy. For example, a recent editorial in the New Haven Register points out that it takes 10 to 20 years to bring a new drug to market, at a cost of $1 billion or more. The years of research and development spending behind each new medicine developed in Connecticut translates into a huge biopharma investment in the Connecticut economy. The payoff is a wide range of high paying jobs. In Connecticut, pharmaceutical companies support an estimated 53,000 workers and spend nearly $4 billion annually on research.

The Register editorial notes in particular that research on Alzheimer's has become an important focus of Connecticut research activity, involving small biotechs like Axerion as well as large pharmas like Pfizer.

In connection with National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, We Work for Health Connecticut has been active, meeting with national groups, the media, and companies working on Alzheimer’s therapies. The Alzheimer's Association has put together several informative publications. See the Association's website for details.

Another recent success story is that of CURE member Amarin Pharma. A late stage trial of its cardiovascular medication AMR 101 targeting triglycerides met with notable success. Amarin stock, which a year ago could be bought for less than $1 per share, reached a year-to-date high of $5.85. Click here for news report in The Day.

Connecticut's far-sighted decision to support stem cell research is also paying dividends. A study reported recently in the journal Nature Biology indicates that the States, not the federal government, fund the majority of human embryonic stem cell research conducted in the United States. Connecticut is one of six states mentioned that have adopted programs to fund stem cell research, with Connecticut devoting 97% of its grants specifically to human embryonic stem cell research. Click here for more on study.

Applications for the next round of grants under Connecticut's continuing program are due by January 14, 2011. Click here for the 2011 RFP.

For a briefing on trends in Connecticut's bioscience industry, Senator-elect Richard Blumenthal joined CURE members in the board room of Achillion Pharmaceuticals November 23. CURE's presentation outlined several important issues that need to be monitored at the Federal level.

Most importantly, we emphasized the need to reauthorize the $1 billion Therapeutic Discovery Program. This innovative policy benefited 35 Connecticut companies, paying them over $14 million to further their important early stage medical research. Click here for a list of companies.

The meeting was also a good opportunity to discuss the regulation of large-molecule biosimilar medicines. Paramount is insuring that companies hoping to manufacture such products provide a safety and efficacy profile equal to that which the innovator companies provide for their medicines.

In addition, we underscored the need to: (1) amend the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR) to allow venture capital-financed companies to apply for SBIR funds; (2) clarify that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment is not intended to ban embryonic stem cell research; and (3) distinguish biopharma venture capital firms and their long term investments from short term hedge funds in the tax treatment of "carried interests." We stressed the need for increased funding for the FDA and NIH and that any future reform to U.S. patent law should "do no harm" to the intellectual property protection fundamental to the biopharma industry.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we discussed the nature of "risk tolerance" and how important it is that regulators not stifle innovation in a misplaced quest to eliminate all risk.

The meeting was well attended and further evidence of Senator-elect Blumenthal's interest in the bioscience sector. During his recent campaign, Blumenthal called for making Connecticut's R&D tax credit permanent and addressed other issues of interest to CURE members. We look forward to working with him here in Connecticut and in Washington.

Despite the sluggish economy (and colder than usual weather), the mood was upbeat at CURE's annual Holiday Party December 7. Click here for a report with photos.

Ringing in the New Year on a positive note, Leonard Bell, co-founder and CEO of CURE-member Alexion Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire, was runner-up in's "Best Biotech CEO" of the year poll. Click here for details

My congratulations to Leonard, and my best wishes to all of you for a joyous Holiday season and a great New Year.

Paul R. Pescatello is President and CEO of CURE.

Link to Paul's other columns

More news from CT biopharma

FDA committee unanimously approves BI stroke drug
The committee voted 9-0 in favor of approving Boehringer Source

End points met in study of Alexion's Soliris® for kidney ailment
Amarin drug significantly reduces triglycerides in Phase 3 study
Connecticut Innovations invests $150,000 in NovaTract Surgical
Helix Therapeutics wins $2.5 million investment
Pfizer's axitinib see positive Phase 3 results for renal carcinoma
454 Life Sciences to develop semiconductor-based sequencing
Biodel presents new Phase 1 data on Linjeta™ 
Boehringer Ingelheim to present data on Pradaxa® anticoagulant
Hartford Hospital oncology unit, other videos available
HistoRx announces clinical diagnostic use of AQUA® technology
J&J: Study shows DNA test predicts scoliosis progression
J&Jbids $2.3 billion for Dutch biotech company
Bioequivalence, ease of use, efficiency of MannKind's AFREZZA®
Mira Dx names Martin Verhoef president and CEO
Read succeeds Kindler at Pfizer
PhRMA notes 100 HIV/AIDS drugs in development
Data support Rib-X delafloxacin as best-in-class fluoroquinolone

More news from CT universities & medical centers

UConn dean urges stem cell legislation
In a recent letter to congressional leaders, Dr. Cato Laurencin, UConn medical school dean and vice president for health affairs, joined more than 100 representatives of the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals in calling on Congress to pass the “Stem Cell Research Advancement Act.” Source

 UConn nursing student finds calling in South Africa
 Case study on risks of alcohol/HIV in South Africa
 Pharmacy professor awarded cancer research grant
 Health Center emergency room head on disaster mission
 Nursing school studies how doctors ask questions 
 Health Center archives patients' stories on website
 Saving the sight of premature babies
 Artificial antibodies hold promise for fighting disease
 Neuroscientist studies how memories are born

Schlessinger named director of Yale Cancer Biology Institute
Yale Cancer Center has named Joseph Schlessinger, Ph.D., a world-renowned leader in the field of signal transduction, as the founding director of the new Cancer Biology Institute. Source

 Study identifies why diabetes risk increases with age
Yale expands program for healthcare administration in Ethiopia
 Researchers study frontotemporal dementia
 Phone-in program fails to improve patient outcomes
 Brain scans detect autism's signature
 Study links video gaming to health risks
 Pregnancy weight gain higher among low-income minorities
 Exercise and reduced risk of endometrial cancer
 Post-combat trauma among women veterans
 Report released on fast food nutrition and marketing
 Link between overweight young omen and risky sex behavior
 Study tracks factors in physical decline of older adults

Copyright 2010 © Connecticut United for Research Excellence. All rights reserved. Visit CURE at and CURE BioScience Explorations at
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Newsletter developed and edited by HarveyMalis Communications LLC, Guilford, Conn.

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