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Cambridge’s Knome pioneers the new science of DNA gene sequencing: is there a DNA scan in your health care future? March 8, 2010

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Gene researchers have been anticipating for years now about how gene sequencing technology will revolutionize the practice of medicine. With the steady advancement of Moore’s law-induced cost lowering, cheap gene sequencing means this revolution is now underway. The cost of decoding all 6 Billion letters in the human genome has dropped from around $1 Million in 2007 to less than $20,000 today.

Already the cost of performing a gene scan on a patient can be lowered to $2,500 if a two-step method is used to extract and sequence only the 1% of the gene sequences that contain known genes. New gene sequencers being introduced by companies such as Illumina and Life Technologies could lower the cost of sequencing an entire patient’s genome to below $3,000 by the end of 2010.

Although DNA sequencers have not been approved for use in medical testing, and insurers don’t pay for sequencing, peering into the DNA of wealthy patients with rare and scary diseases is becoming an option.

Knome, a privately held, Cambridge, Massachusetts based company, started out in 2008 by charging up to $350,000 to arrange sequencing and interpretation of the gene data for wealthy patrons as a vanity project. The company now offers the scans for as little as $25,000. The company’s CEO, Jorge Conde, is said to have expressed that several patients hoping to use the scans to guide their care providers in diagnosis and prescription. Cancer patients may be among the first to benefit from DNA sequencing technology.

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Boston Scientific agrees to pay $1.73 Billion in a court patent settlement to Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis Unit February 7, 2010

Posted by HubTechInsider in Health Care IT.
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Boston Scientific agrees to pay $1.73 Billion in a court patent settlement to Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis Unit. A nasty patent fight over heart stents, the tiny mesh tubes that prop open clogged arteries, came to an end on February 1st, when Boston Scientific agreed to pay $1.73 Billion to JOhnson & Johnson’s Cordis unit. The spat, during which the two companies lobbed a dozen lawsuits at each other, dates back to 2003 and involves three separate patents. The rivals haven’t quite buried the scalpel, however: J & J points out in a statement that it is pursuing patent litigation over Boston Scientific’s Promus stents.


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MIT professor and double amputee invents the Iwalk PowerFoot, the world’s most advanced robotic prosthetic foot December 3, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Hardware, Health Care IT, Robotics, Startups, Venture Capital.
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MIT professor and double amputee Dr. Hugh Herr is building the world’s most advanced prosthetic foot. In 2006, Herr founded Iwalk, which has plans to release next year the PowerFoot One, the world’s most advanced robotic ankle and foot. Iwalk is a startup funded by General Catalyst Partners and WFD Ventures. Iwalk has raised $10.2 million from investors.

Dr. Hugh Herr with the Iwalk PowerFoot

Dr. Hugh Herr with the Iwalk PowerFoot



The Iwalk PowerFoot is the only foot and ankle in the word that doesn’t depend on its wearer’s energy. With a system of passive springs and a half-pound rechargeable lithium iron phosphate battery, the foot – made of aluminum, titanium, plastic and carbon fiber – provides the same 20-joule push off the ground that human muscles and tendons do. It automatically adjusts the power to the walker’s speed, but users can also dial that power up or down with a Bluetooth-enabled phone, and with a forthcoming iPhone application.

Most prosthetic feet are fixed at a clumsy 90 degrees. The Iwalk PowerFoot, equipped with three internal microprocessors and twelve force, inertia and position sensors, automatically adjusts its angle, stiffness and damping 500 times a second. Employing the same sort of sensory feedback loops that the human nervous system uses, plus a library of known patterns, the PowerFoot adjusts for slopes, dips its toe naturally when walking down the stairs, even hangs casually when the user crosses his or her legs.

Potential customers include the Department of Defense, looking for prostheses for the nearly 1,000 soldiers who have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Veterans Administration and the Army are among the investors in Dr. Herr’s research.

Herr has a reputation as an obsessive student, earning a master’s in mechanical enginerring at MIT and a Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard. He sat on a panel of scientists that confirmed that South African Oscar Pistorius, a sprinter with no legs below the knee, should be allowed to compete in the Olympics.


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About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurshipecommercetelecommunications andsoftware development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.


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Cambridge’s Ligon Discovery raises $1 Million in seed capital funding December 2, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Biotech, Health Care IT, Pharmaceuticals, Startups, Venture Capital.
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Ligon Discovery reported recently on its website that it has raised $1 milllion in seed financing from incTANK Ventures. The Cambridge, MA-based startup says it uses a small molecule microarray system developed at Harvard University to discover drugs, and the drug-discovery technology has already been put to work at the Broad Institute. The company founders include Benjamin Ebert of Harvard Medical School, Angela Koehler of the Broad Institute, and company CEO Patrick Kleyn, who was previously director of scientific planning at the Broad. As part of the financing, IncTank Ventures general partner Christian Bailey is joining the board of directors at Ligon, according to the company.

Waltham’s ImmunoGen lands a $1 Million licensing fee from Amgen November 25, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Biotech, Health Care IT, Pharmaceuticals, Venture Capital.
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Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN) said recently that Amgen has purchased a second license to develop a treatment that uses ImmunoGen’s technology for linking targeted antibodies to cell-killing agents that make them more potent. ImmunoGen will get $1 million upfront and could receive $34 million worth of milestone payments over time if Amgen is successful in developing a drug against an undisclosed target on cancer cells. Amgen bought its first such license to the ImmunoGen technology in September.

Cambridge based Genocea Biosciences tests experimental vaccines in a simulated human immune system November 14, 2009

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Cambridge, MA -based Genocea Biosciences uses technology developed at the Harvard Medical School to very rapidly test experimental vaccines in a simulated version of the human immune system.

The startup has raised $23 Million from venture capital firms SR One and Waltham -based Polaris Ventures.

Epizyme, based in Cambridge and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, has raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including Kleiner Perkins, Amgen and Astrellas Pharma November 14, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Biotech, Pharmaceuticals, Venture Capital.
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Epizyme, based in Cambridge, MA and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, announced on October 7th that it had raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including the famed Silicon Valley -based Kleiner Perkins Caulfied and Beyers, the the venture-investing units of both biotech giant Amgen and Japanese drugmaker Astrellas Pharma.

The startup has raised $46 Million to date. Epizyme’s drugs attack cancer-causing enzymes. Genes determine how our bodies change over time. But they only spring into action when prompted by another set of biochemical factors – seperate from DNA – known as the epigenome. Epizyme scientists believe they may be able to control disease-related genes by aiming new drugs at these factors.

The science of epigenetics is understandably complex. Raising such funds was an impressive feat for this startup, given a market that is hostile currently to biotech startups.

The amount of venture capital raised by biotechs in the third quarter of 2009 dropped 30% Year-over-year, to $759 Million, according to a recent report by financial services firm Burrill & Co.

Epizyme is primarily in the spotlight for its promising research on cancer. The company’s understanding of how DNA wraps around proteins that control how genes create cells, tissues and organs are the basis of its discoveries.

Epizyme’s newest genetic pharmaceuticals are designed to cripple malfunctioning enzymes that contribute to such afflictions as cancers of the prostrate, lung, breast and more. These drugs may someday be tested against inflammatory diseases, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Dr. Kazumi Shiosaki, PhD, is a chemist who founded Epizyme with funding from MPM Capital, where she worked after leaving Millenium Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, Shiosaki worked at Abbott Laboratories.

Epizyme is working in the exciting field of epigenetics and has a solid stable of talented scientists and drug industry veterans, including Chief Scientific Officer Robert A. Copeland, who came to the company from GlaxoSmithKline.

BioAssets Development, a Wellesley based investigator of spinal applications for existing drugs, enters into $30 Million option to be acquired by Cephalon November 12, 2009

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Frazer, PA-based Cephalon (NASDAQ: CEPH) has agreed to pay $30 million for an option to acquire BioAssets Development Corporation, a Wellesley, MA-based company investigating spinal uses for existing and experimental drugs, according to a press release. Under the terms of the agreement, BioAssets will be eligible for an additional payment if Cephalon exercises the option, as well as for payments tied to regulatory and sales milestones.

Boston Biotech goes on life support May 2, 2009

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biotechFor Boston’s high-risk, cash-intensive biotech industry, it’s now-or-never time. Biotech companies have always been notoriously risky. They tend to burn through cash – to develop one drug can cost as much as $1 billion – and operate on a “pre-revenue” basis for years. Now the credit crunch is hitting the lab-coat crowd harder than most. For private outfits venture money is drying up on one end, and on the other there’s no easy exit in an IPO; on the publicly traded side, small and midsize listed companies are struggling to find enough funding to stay afloat. Life sciences research firm Burrill & Company says that one-third of publicly traded biotechs have less than six months’ worth of cash left – and he predicts that as many as 100 might go under or be forced to merge this year (10 have filed for bankruptcy since November). While that’s bad news for some companies, other companies may benefit from the available assets and skilled staff of these Boston biotech firms should they prove unable to bring their promising new drugs to market.

Oscient Pharmaceuticals, a Waltham, MA company working on drugs for high blood cholesterol and chronic bronchitis, and financed by Orbimed Advisors and Paul Capital Partners, has asked Broadpoint Capital to explore a possible sale after auditors warned the 213-employee company of an impending cash shortage.

Altus Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridgeport, MA company working on drugs for gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders, and funded by U.S. Venture Partners and Warburg Pincus, has pulled the plug on its drug for cystic fibrosis and cut more than 100 jobs. One of Altus’ VC board members resigned abruptly in April.

Mass Innovation Nights at Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham, MA April 13, 2009

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Massachusetts Innovation nights, a self-described “Science Fair for Adults”, will be held at the Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham, MA. For those of you not familiar with Waltham, MA, it is located on the Charles River, and is the “Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution”. Also known as the “Watch City” due to the longtime presence of the now-defunct Waltham Watch Company, which not many people know created the instrumentation for the Apollo lunar landers!

From the Mass Innovation website:

Mass Innovation Nights (MIN) is designed to provide Massachusetts-based innovators with ways (both online and in the real world) to connect with the media, the marketplace and each other.
Held once a month at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, in Waltham near Route 128, the Launch Parties are FREE to presenters and open to the public. The live events showcase great new products produced by local companies.  Attendees — you get in free too, all we ask is that you help spread the word about cool new products that you see at MIN events.  If you don’t blog, or Tweet (#MIN), or Facebook, tell a neighbor or a friend (yes, in person, you know, talking…)

MassInnovationNights.com allows companies large and small to showcase their new products to an audience of social media enthusiasts, mass media and potential customers.  MIN attendees will be blogging, Tweeting, Flickr’ing, Qik’ing and whatever’ing — helping you to get the word out about your new product — even if YOU don’t have a marketing team of your own.  MIN live events are an exciting and fun-filled opportunity for networking, talking with the product team, and perusing the latest technology and innovative products Massachusetts has to offer.

Product Managers, Product Developers, Marketing and PR

Submit your new product announcements and commit to presenting your products at the live events.  There is NO charge for presenting.  This is a first come-first served type situation for the first few events.  Eventually we’ll get a voting system on the site.

Attend Free Events

Visitors to the site RSVP for the FREE live events (second Wednesday of every month) held at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham (free wireless too!) and can peruse the list of already committed attendees in order to make plans for networking. MIN is great for connecting job seekers and recruiters.

All we ask is that you help spread the word about the event and any great product that catches your eye.  (Yes, it’s Karma-time!  We throw a fun party — and there will undoubtedly be after-parties up and down Moody Street — and all we ask in return is that you support Massachusetts-made products by helping to spread the word about them.)”

Sign up for our next event today.

Here is the upcoming schedule for the Mass Innovation Nights:

Schedule

* April 8, 2009
* May 13, 2009
* June 10, 2009
* July 8, 2009
* August 12, 2009
* September 9, 2009
* October 14, 2009
* November 11, 2009
* December 9, 2009

More information is available on the Mass Innovation website:

http://massinnovationnights.com/

Click here for an interesting Boston GLobe article on a recent Mass Innovation Night

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