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Vetter’s Chicago Site Wins Award

Vetter, a globally operating Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO), announced that its US clinical manufacturing facility located at the Illinois Science+Technology Park in Skokie has been named as one of “Chicago’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®”.

The award, sponsored by the National Association for Business Resources, recognizes only those companies that have distinguished themselves as having the most innovative and thoughtful human resources approach. An independent research firm evaluates each company’s entry based on key measures in various categories which include among others, Compensation; Benefits and Employee Solutions; Employee Enrichment; Work-Life Balance; Communication and Shared Vision; Diversity and Inclusion, and Community Initiatives.

“Vetter is thrilled to be recognized for our efforts, particularly since the key parameters for deciding award winners are those of critical importance to our employees,” said Dr. Susanne Lemaine, President Vetter Development Services USA Inc. “This recognition reflects our ongoing efforts to perform consistently at a high level for our customers and to be an attractive company to work for in Chicago.”

Jennifer Kluge, President and CEO, Best and Brightest Programs said “..these companies rise to the challenge through their cultural innovation by maximizing their workforce potential.” .

To read the entire release, click here.

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CycloPure – $1 million SBIR Grant

CycloPure, Inc., a leading innovator in water purification technologies and the developer of the DEXSORB™ line of adsorbents, announced that the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has awarded the company a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant in the amount of $1,000,000. CycloPure will use the Phase II grant to continue development of its DEXSORB+ adsorbent for removal of PFAS from drinking water.

“We’re thrilled to continue working with the NIEHS Superfund Research Program,” said CycloPure Chief Executive Frank Cassou. “NIEHS has been a great partner; they care deeply about the issue of PFAS in domestic drinking water supplies. Funds from this award come at a great time as we push to expand field activities with our environmental and municipal partners. We do our best work removing nanoscale contaminants. The PFAS Superfund Program is in our sweet spot.”

Click for entire release.

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Exicure: Nasdaq Uplisting

Exicure (XCUR), a pioneer in gene regulatory and immunotherapeutic drugs utilizing spherical nucleic acid (SNA™) constructs, reported financial results for 2Q 2019 & an update on corporate progress.

2Q 2019 Progress & Recent Developments

Announced important preclinical data supporting development of SNA technology in the central nervous system (CNS)

Expanded Board with experienced biotechnology leaders

AST-008 Phase 1b/2 clinical trial continues to progress—AST-008 is an SNA consisting of toll-like receptor 9 agonists designed for immuno-oncology applications.

Enhanced Financial Resources
• Up-listed from the OTC to the Nasdaq Capital Market.
• Closed oversubscribed underwritten public offering of 31,625,000 shares of common stock
• Insider participation of approximately $2.6 M

“The first half of 2019 continued to bring advancements across our pipeline,” said Dr. David Giljohann, Exicure’s chief executive officer. “We are extremely pleased with the strong progress in both our neurology and oncology franchises, while we simultaneously strengthened our board leadership and balance sheet. Our non-human primate data confirmed our enthusiasm for neurological applications of our SNA platform. Our recent $63.3 million public offering, which closed on August 2, 2019 provides the financial resources to advance these opportunities,” he added.

For the entire announcement, click here.

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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

Speakers:
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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NuMat Technologies Innovations Grant

American small businesses got nearly a $22 million boost from the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Small businesses are receiving Phase 1 Release II grants that demonstrate technical feasibility for innovations during the first phase of their research

NuMat Technologies (NuMat) of Skokie, IL will determine if innovative, high-efficiency filters can be used to remove impurities from hydrogen gas streams. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) require high-purity hydrogen fuels that is expensive, and as a result, are preventing widespread adoption of FCEVs. This SBIR seeks to address this problem through the development of low-cost point-of-use filters to purify hydrogen. For more about this grant , click here.

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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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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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