ISTP, 4901 Searle Parkway, Skokie, Il 60077

SKOKIEBIZ Highlights Skokie Advantages

Skokie ranked high in this measurement of key economic development factors:

In July 2018, the Village conducted its triennial Nat ional Cit izen Survey (NCS), to gauge resident opinions on Village programs, services and policies. This survey is administered by the National Research Center to 1,600 randomly-selected Skokie residences and includes questions related to the business environment in Skokie, as a place to work, overall economic health of the community, shopping opportunities (usually highly rated!), employment opportunities, Downtown Skokie, and the overall quality of business and service establishments in
the community.

Survey Results:

  • 98% purchased goods and services in Skokie more than once a month.
  • 92-94% rated the overall economic health of the Village as positive.
  • 92% would recommend living/working in Skokie to someone who asked.
  • 90-93% rated Village efforts to implement economic development initiatives to bring new businesses, create new jobs, and generate sales taxes as positive.
  • 87-91% visited Downtown Skokie businesses more than once a month.
  • 84% rated the overall quality of business and service establishments as positive.
  • 83% rated Skokie as a positive place to work.
Click here to read the entire edition of SKOKIEBIZ

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Vetter’s Skokie Facility Expansion nears Completion

Since beginning full operations in late 2011, Vetter’s US early-stage development site has been expanding to help meet growing customer demands.  A significant level of expansion activities are nearing completion at its US clinical manufacturing facility located at the Illinois Science & Technology Park. The ongoing growth of the facility will help satisfy existing and ever-increasing future customer requirements as well enable meet the complex needs of newer drug molecules like peptides or antibodies, many which need refrigeration or freezing. New offices with 45 work stations, conference rooms and an archive room are also included. To support the increase in customer projects, a permanent second work shift will be added in Visual Inspection over the next months. A second shift in Quality Oversight is also planned.

“This variety of activities is a further proof point of Vetter’s consistent strategic approach to stay ahead of the market by focusing on the important service needs of our customers during their drug development journey; promptness; flexibility; high yield of their valuable API and, of course high quality,” explains Dr. Claus Feussner, Senior Vice President of Vetter Development Service.  For more details, click here to access the entire press release. 

With the new additions, most of which are expected to be completed by April, the site will increase its storage space by an additional 3,100 sq. ft. The new storage includes a 2,500 sq. ft. freezer farm as well as a planned 600 sq. ft. walk-in refrigerator. In total, 6,800 sq. ft. of storage space will result. A second extension, now in the final planning stage, will include an additional 1,500 sq. ft. of room temperature and freezer space. “When completed, the facility will have more than double the overall storage space we have currently available. This extensive expansion of freezer and refrigeration storage space represents the ongoing evolution in our Chicago business,” summarizes Dr. Susanne Lemaine, Vice President Vetter Development Service Chicago.

For an overview of the history of Vetter, click here. 

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Life Sciences Industry Growth

As noted in a recent CBRE report, the U.S. life sciences industry is growing at the fastest pace since 2000. The 3.2% year-over-year growth rate in U.S. life sciences employment ending Q3 2018 is a strong acceleration from the slow,but temporary, growth in early 2017 and well-above the 1.7% increase in total U.S. nonfarm employment over the same period. Employment in the industry has grown 42% over the past 20 years. All sectors of life sciences (Manufacturing, Testing Labs, R&D) are growing, but R&D continues to outperform.  The key subsector that is driving growth, even within the larger R&D sector, is research & development in biotechnology. This subsector grew at an annual pace of 6.2% in Q3 2018, far greater than other sectors of life sciences. Biotech R&D has grown 88% over the past 20 years.

An abundance of capital allocated to the life sciences industry is helping fuel strong growth. The $15.8 billion in annual life sciences venture capital funding through Q3 2018 was an 86% increase from the prior year. Though most of that funding was diverted to companies in Massachusetts and California, early indications show the share allocated to these states has waned over the past few years as investors seek greater opportunities elsewhere. Among segments of the life sciences industry attracting the most capital, about half of all funding is being allocated to biotechnology pursuits, clearly helping drive that subsector’s astonishing growth.  Click here to access the entire report

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2019 International Institute for Nanotechnology

IIN Symposium: Maps, Materials, and Methods for Navigating the Nanoscale World

Thursday, November 14
8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Hilton Orrington Hotel, Grand Ballroom
1710 Orrington Avenue
Evanston, IL

Stefan Hell, 2014 Nobel Laureate, Max Planck Institute, Germany
Harry Anderson, Oxford University, England
Julia Greer, California Institute of Technology
David Mooney, Harvard University
The winner of the 2019 Kabiller Prize

Organized by IIN, this popular all-day conference brings together leading national and international researchers to share the latest in nanotechnology discoveries and trends. The Symposium also provides a unique opportunity to encourage interactions and collaborations among the scientists in attendance.

Click here for a link to the IIN page.

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Research Collaboration Challenges

Research collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions are replete with challenges.  These challenges are:

  • Resource constraints, the most frequently mentioned category, refers to the limited availability of human, monetary and organizational resources
  • Legal and administrative process complexity includes challenges due to ‘paperwork’, internal approval processes, ethical reviews, and contract negotiations
  • Coordination challenges relate to difficulties in teamwork, the frequency and quality of communication, the coordination of tasks and the exchange of goods and knowledge
  • Scientific challenges arise from negative results, issues with the scientific methodology and difficulties in interpreting data
  • Goal alignment challenges, relates to diverging expectations and goals among project members and insufficient priority of the project in the partnering organizations
  • Interpersonal challenges include issues related to differences in project members’ individual attitudes, behaviours and interests, a lack of trust in the partner, a lack of commitment by single project members and interpersonal conflict
  • Technological challenges arise from scarce knowledge on new technologies and methods, uncertainty in the technical feasibility of methods and unreliable experimental techniques.
To learn more about these challenges, click here

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Exicure adds new sites

Exicure has added four new clinical trial sites for its Phase Ib/II trial of AST-008 for the treatment of various cancer types.   The sites are based in the US, including Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Massachusetts, Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence St John’s Health Center in California, and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami in Florida.

Exicure CEO Dr David Giljohann said: “We are encouraged by the results of our Phase I clinical trial, which demonstrated that our drug is well-tolerated and activates key immune cells and signals.”

The initial stage of the open-label Phase Ib/II trial includes a dose-finding Phase Ib stage, where AST-008 is expected to be evaluated in combination with an anti-PD-1 therapy pembrolizumab (Keytruda). The Phase Ib stage is set to be followed by a Phase II expansion stage.

Exicure aims to enroll patients with superficial injectable tumours as part of the Phase Ib portion of the trial.  For more on this update, click here. 

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North American Genotoxicity Workshop

Join Charles River on April 2-3.  Genetic toxicology testing is required for all classes of chemicals and drugs, but its conduct can differ from compound to compound. A poor strategy can result in repeated studies, failure to meet timelines, or worse – abandonment of a once promising program.

At the North American Genotoxicity Workshop, you’ll learn how to successfully execute this unique aspect of your compound’s safety assessment, satisfying regulatory criteria and smoothing your path to market. Over two days, you’ll tackle program guidelines, regulations, and best practices, gain an in-depth understanding of the in vitro and in vivo assays that comprise a solid testing program, and gain insight into accurate evaluations of the results.

You’ll network with peers who face similar challenges and meet scientists who perform the assays and can offer strategic advice. Don’t miss this opportunity to arm yourself with the knowledge that can help your compound move forward through development.

The workshop will take place over the course of two days (Tuesday and Wednesday, April 2-3). Tuesday’s program includes the seminar and meals, including breakfast, lunch, snacks, and a dinner reception.

Day two includes breakfast, a half-day of presentations, and lunch followed by a tour of our laboratory facilities with assay demonstrations. The speakers and other Charles River scientists will join you for all meals, allowing for one on one conversations.

For more program information, click here

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Vetter – Current Market Developments

Increasingly, contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) like Vetter are acting as the interface between small biotech firms and large drug manufacturers

Flexibility, responsiveness and operational excellence are being demanded by drug developers. The challenge faced by companies like Vetter Pharma International is to deliver these to customers. Oskar Gold, notes that Vetter believes that partnership is always the key to success, with operational excellence being decisive in both the development and commercial phases.

“Particularly in the early drug development phases, a number of issues that can affect the entire development project scope can arise and thus flexibility is critical,” Gold says. “Also, it is important that a sponsor and service provider with a common target in mind act as one to successfully perform a drug development project that can get the drug on the market as fast as possible, where it can improve or even save patient lives.”

Listen to the video interview with Oskar Gold of Vetter discussing current market developments and their multifaceted impacts.

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Chicago Life Science Opportunities

Long a hotbed of life sciences titans like Abbott Laboratories, Baxter International and Takeda Pharmaceuticals that have established the northern suburbs as a biotechnology hub, the Chicago area has recently seen a rush of startups as schools including Northwestern and U of C have pushed to commercialize faculty research in ways championed by universities like Stanford and MIT.
The biomedical and biotech sectors accounted for 44 percent of the $877 million in funding raised by all 942 startups spun out from Illinois universities between 2013 and 2017, according to data from the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group.
But the number of local facilities available for clinical tests and that also offer the equipment startups need hasn’t grown as quickly. One reason lab space isn’t pervasive is that it is expensive and risky to build. Structures like these need special ventilation, electrical and safety systems to accommodate chemical reactions, and extra security to protect highly valuable intellectual property.
The fully occupied ISTP in Skokie, on the site of the former research complex for pharmaceutical giant G.D. Searle, today houses several life sciences companies that originated at Northwestern. Read more in this article from Crain’s

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Exicure Breakthrough

The ‘Koosh ball’ that can cure.
David Giljohann has developed a breakthrough that has the ability to infiltrate a sick cell to correct the genes inside and make it healthy—or kill it.

DNA-altering drugs have been a fascination in medicine since the human genome was decoded, but until now these medications have been hitting an impenetrable wall. “The challenge was no one could figure out how to effectively deliver DNA into the cell,” explains David Giljohann. His company, Skokie-based Exicure, has over 150 patents on a technology that is solving the cellular-level delivery challenge.

His product is a “spherical nucleic acid,” or “SNA construct” for short. It’s a configuration of DNA arranged around a nanoparticle, which the 37-year-old CEO says “looks like a Koosh ball.” This unique 3D design has the ability to infiltrate a sick cell to correct the genes inside and make it healthy—or kill it. Giljohann discovered the phenomenon in 2006 with his Northwestern University graduate school classmates in the lab of Chad Mirkin, an industry leader in science and entrepreneurship who is also a co-founder of Exicure. “It’s a major, major discovery,” says Mirkin. “One that will really change the course of pharmaceutical development.”

Four drugs are being tested in patients in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, including a clinical trial at Northwestern for brain cancer. Other trials focus on general oncology and the topical treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Giljohann hopes the technology will revolutionize the standard of care for any genetically based disease, including cancer. “If you look at chemotherapeutics, your goal is to kill the cancer cells faster than you kill every other cell in the body. The idea behind Exicure technologies for the SNA, as well as the DNA space in general, is let’s just kill the bad cells.”

When his medicines start coming to market in the mid-2020s, Giljohann anticipates he’ll be pioneering treatments for illnesses that currently have none and introducing drugs that are more targeted, easier to administer, safer and less expensive. “From a business standpoint, that’s nirvana,” Mirkin says.

Exicure has only 30 team members but operates at the pace of a company of 300. Thanks to the human genome codes, the team is able to digitally design, test and prototype a medicine before building it. Instead of making a thousand designs for testing, they make only one, shortening the development cycle and driving down costs.

An adjunct professor in chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern, Giljohann lives in Evanston, “although our running joke at the company is that I live on seat 7A on American Airlines.” He racked up 128 flights to and from O’Hare International Airport last year visiting clinical trial sites, giving scientific talks and visiting his impressive list of investors, including Bill Gates, Eric Lefkofsky, Pat Ryan and David Walt. Exicure has raised over $100 million and became a publicly traded company in May.  Click here for a link to the original article in Crain’s Chicago Business

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