MedImmune low falls on date of 1992 highHere's an...

LIFE SCIENCES

March 30, 1993|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,Staff Writer

MedImmune low falls on date of 1992 high

Here's an unfortunate coincidence for MedImmune Inc., a Rockville biotech company that is developing vaccines and other products. The company's stock traded at a 52-week low of $11.50 Thursday, exactly a year after reaching its 52-week high of $34.50. The drop was attributed to an industrywide downturn.

Soundview Financial Group of Stamford, Conn., began coverage MedImmune last week with near- and long-term "hold" ratings.

But Soundview expects to upgrade the rating if there are positive results from the last phase of testing for Respivir. The immunotherapeutic drug was developed for a virus that causes pneumonia and bronchial infections in children. Test results will be presented in Washington May 6. MedImmune rose $1 yesterday, to $13.

Texaco chief gets invention patented

When was the last time the chief executive officer of a major U.S. corporation had an invention patented? Well, Texaco Inc.'s Jim Kinnear has shown that it can be done.

Walking to his car one day, Mr. Kinnear came up with an idea that could help end the nation's air pollution problems.

The idea: to reduce hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions that escape when a car is started while the catalytic converter is cold. Up to 70 percent of those pollutants escape in the first minute of engine start-up.

Mr. Kinnear's device, which includes a heater component on the car and a remote control unit that attaches to a key chain, preheats the catalytic converter. When a driver walks out the front door, the device is activated by pressing the remote switch. And by the time the car is started 20 or 30 seconds later, the catalytic converter is warmed up.

Automobile engineers had conceived of a device to warm up the converter before. But the idea was rejected because they thought America's drivers were too impatient to wait half a minute to start the engine after entering a car.

Texaco says the device, which was designed by Texaco engineer Isidoro N. Baccarini, was tested on a fleet of cars and reduced 50 to 60 percent of the polluting emissions.

One benefit to Texaco: It wouldn't have to reformulate gasoline in certain parts of the country. The company claims that the device would be six times more efficient than the reformulated gas that is designed to reduce emissions. Baltimore motorists are buying reformulated gas this winter because carbon monoxide emissions in the region reach unhealthy levels.

2 programs to aid small and minority-run firms

Small businesses and companies run by minorities will have a chance to establish closer links with large, more experienced companies, thanks to two programs scheduled later this year.

The University of Maryland's Michael D. Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, the Center for Equal Business Opportunity and the Greater Baltimore Committee's Technology Council are cooperating on the programs.

The first program, scheduled for mid-June, will give small and minority business people information about university and government services, particularly different types of loans, that are available. Another, which has not been scheduled, is designed to encourage partnerships between small and large companies.

The program is part of a GBC effort to include minorities in its life sciences initiative. For more information, call Susan Green at the Dingman Center, (301) 405-2148.

Pure Food Campaign targets dairy hormone

This week, Jeremy Rifkin's biotechnology watchdog group will begin another campaign to get the public to boycott genetically engineered foods. The Pure Food Campaign is attacking the use of a bovine growth hormone that Monsanto Corp. of St. Louis hopes the Food and Drug Administration will approve. Cows given the hormone are supposed to give 10 to 20 percent more milk.

The Pure Food Campaign argues that use of the hormone could increase the residue of antibiotics in our milk supply. Cows, the group says, would be more likely to develop infections in their udders, requiring treatments with antibiotics. The hormone itself a copy of a hormone that is found in cows naturally.

Chairman John C. Stauber says the group also believes that the use of the hormone will put small dairy farmers out of work because they will not be able to compete. He claims that some large drug and food companies will pledge not to use the hormone in their products. But the Grocery Manufacturers Association called the boycott "irresponsible, bullying tactics" and declared its support for use of the hormone.

Later this week, the FDA will hold a hearing on use of the growth hormone. And then the Pure Food Campaign is expected to take out boycott advertisements in newspapers and run spots on television and radio.

Hopkins' Russell joins Univax advisory board

Univax Biologics Inc. of Rockville has added Philip K. Russell, a professor of International Health at the School of Hygiene and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, to its scientific advisory board.

Before joining the faculty at Hopkins, Dr. Russell served as commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick. He is an expert in vaccine research and infectious diseases.

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