Job-training program scheduled by BCCCA new program to...

LIFE SCIENCES

April 13, 1993|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,Staff Writer

Job-training program scheduled by BCCC

A new program to train unemployed workers for jobs in the life sciences industry will begin this year at Baltimore City Community College.

About 200 people will be chosen each year for the nine-month training, designed to give participants skills to enter another profession, according to Thomas Little, director of business services at BCCC.

The students are likely to be people who graduated from high school, worked for a period of years at a job, were laid off and now find themselves in their mid-20s or 30s with skills that no one wants.

The students will attend school 40 hours a week to learn skills for jobs in medical transcription or patient billing, or to become a laboratory technician or dietary manager. They will continue to receive unemployment benefits while in school, and the college hopes to help place many of them in jobs after they graduate.

"We are estimating the probable cost will be $4,000 to $6,000 per person, but that each one will bring in $13,000 to $20,000 a year in salary when they get jobs, Dr. Little said.

The program, paid for with federal money administered by the city, will cost from $700,000 to $1 million a year.

Company aims to help fish grow faster

How do you get fish to grow faster and produce young more often for the dinner plates of the world? AquaPharm Technologies Corp. may have some of the answers.

The company will move to Baltimore from Boston as soon as it can find laboratory space in the city. But with the lure of a state-of-the-art aquaculture facility at the Center of Marine Biotechnology in Baltimore, President Amos Goren is spending as much time here as he does at company headquarters in Boston.

AquaPharm would be one of Baltimore's first marine biotechnology companies -- and, the Christopher Columbus Center hopes, the beginning of a trend here. Based on work done by scientists at the Center of Marine Biotechnology and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the company hopes to make devices and drugs for the aquaculture industry.

One of the company's first projects is the development of a hormone to induce fish to reproduce. Fish such as salmon and striped bass don't become sexually mature for years and then reproduce once in the spring. Fish farmers want to provide a hormone that makes them reproduce more often.

The second product is an ultrasound device that would speed the intake of drugs into a fish's system and allow farmers to give drugs to many fish at the same time.

The company, which has four employees, wants to expand to 15, many of them scientists, by the end of the year. "We hope to help move Baltimore's marine biotech into a global level," Mr. Goren said.

Cellco Inc., Mass. firm unite on AIDS project

Germantown-based Cellco Inc. and a Massachusetts company are linking their technologies into a system to provide better care for AIDS and cancer patients.

The companies said last week that Haemonetics Corp. of Braintree, Mass., will make an equity investment in Cellco. While the financial details of the agreement were not made public, Cellco chief executive R. William Lynn said the investment represents less than 10 percent of Cellco's outstanding shares.

The companies hope to design a blood treatment system that is cheaper and more efficient than equipment now offered. Haemonetics makes equipment that separates a patient's blood sample into components. Cellco equipment allows doctors to remove diseased cells, to insert genetic material or to give the immune system a boost.

The companies hope to create a single piece of equipment to handle those tasks.

Cellco, a private company, was formed in 1988 to develop equipment that grows a patient's cells outside the body.

Saxe quits as chief of Synergen Inc.

The three-way race among biotech companies to develop a treatment for sepsis, a blood infection that kills 80,000 Americans annually, took another turn last week with the resignation of the chief executive of Synergen Inc.

Officially, Jon S. Saxe resigned over "differences of opinion" in the Boulder, Colo., company's management. But some analysts believe he was taking the rap for disappointing results in the last phase of testing of Antril, Synergen's sepsis drug.

Results showed that Antril was most successful on patients who were the sickest, but it failed to live up to the company's expectations.

Synergen's stock dropped 68 percent in late February after test results were made public.

Synergen, Xoma of Berkeley, Calif., and Centocor of Malvern, Pa., are in a race to find a treatment for the bacterial infection, which most often attacks patients in hospitals.

All three companies have suffered financial losses after treatments that looked promising in early tests eventually proved to be less effective. Xoma's president resigned in March to head a private start-up company.

The magazine Biotechnology in its current issue speculates that intricacies of the infection have yet to be uncovered. That could explain why the companies have failed to find the Grail.

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