CardioLogic provides reason for hopeThe recent formation...

LIFE SCIENCES

December 22, 1992|By Liz Bowie

CardioLogic provides reason for hope

The recent formation of CardioLogic Systems Inc., the Johns Hopkins University spin-off, offers a hopeful end to 1992 for Baltimore-area life sciences businesses.

The company hopes to make an inflatable vest that could be used instead of CPR to resuscitate heart attack victims.

But its greatest claim to fame is being the first local company to take advantage of new rules that allow the university to accept equity stakes in companies instead of royalty payments.

There have been some other small signs of success for the Baltimore area, which has made life sciences a focus of economic development.

This spring, state officials eagerly welcomed to Baltimore LAB Pharmaceuticals. The small subsidiary of a German drug company plans to provide research services to other drug companies and moved into a new office this fall near Golden Ring Mall.

A second company related to the parent, American Drug Development Co., has been founded to be a contract drug manufacturer. But the Food and Drug Administration approval process may take several years.

Martek Inc., a private Columbia-based company that makes products from algae, grew significantly this year. And in July, Hanover-based Crop Genetics raised enough in a public offering to build a small manufacturing plant.

Biotech setbacks made it a gloomy '92

But 1992 may be remembered more for setbacks to the area's life sciences industry. Baltimore, for example, probably will end the year without snagging a big corporation to spur the industry's development.

Most recently, Celltech, a British biotechnology company, chose New Hampshire over Maryland to locate a bioprocessing center that will help small biotech companies turn laboratory inventions into products. New Hampshire offered the British company $25 million in bond financing and no restrictions on how the company did business.

Celltech has an interesting -- and important -- niche. It helps biotech companies that are developing drugs make the quantities needed for experimental studies -- exactly the business Maryland wants to build at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Research Campus to move a young biomedical industry toward commercialization.

But because Maryland taxpayers would foot most of the bill to build the BioCenter, the board of directors also insisted that Maryland companies be given some priority in using the facility. Celltech balked.

"We aren't going to pretend that wasn't a major setback," said BioCenter director Barbara Plantholt.

The BioCenter's board will meet with another large company interested in running the center in the next couple weeks.

But perhaps the greatest blow to the Baltimore business community's efforts to promote biotech was the loss of the corporate headquarters of Nova Pharmaceutical, which biotech boosters believed might become the next Genentech.

After years of research and development -- and no products -- the company merged with Scios Inc. in September. The new company, Scios Nova Inc. is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. And Scios Nova is trying to sell much of what the decade-old Baltimore company was about.

Many business leaders viewed the merger as a serious setback at a time when Baltimore needs to be bounding ahead to keep pace with other areas.

Still, Scios Nova's chief executive, Richard Casey, has gone out of his way to woo Maryland economic development officials and the city's business and academic community.

"An awful lot of interaction has taken place with Rich Casey," said David Gillece, who is under contract with the Greater Baltimore Committee to direct the business development program in the life sciences. "It is clear to me that his commitment to a growing research and development base in Baltimore is real."

The company always intended to be part of the community, said Kira Bacon, a company spokeswoman.

MedImmune names former Ciba executive

MedImmune Inc. of Gaithersburg has appointed former Ciba-Geigy executive Michael D. Kishbauch as the company's new executive vice president. Mr. Kishbauch spent 10 years at CIBA-GEIGY, most recently as vice president for product planning and promotion. One of his projects: helping to launch Habitrol, the patch that helps smokers kick the habit.

Mr. Kishbauch will be responsible for marketing, medical and regulatory affairs, quality assurance and manufacturing.

Downtown campus set for expansion

Last week's dedication of three new buildings on the University of Maryland at Baltimore campus set the stage for further development on the downtown campus -- particularly the expansion of research and teaching at the medical school.

The university relocated some of its programs so that the University of Maryland Medical System could clear land for a nine-story Homer Gudelsky Tower for patient care. And two other construction projects are planned: a six-story health sciences facility for the School of Medicine and a new health sciences library.

Last week $23 million worth of construction was dedicated: an Environment Health and Safety Building at 714 W. Lombard St., an Allied Health Building at 100 Penn St. and a Biomedical Research Facility at 108 N. Greene St.

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