Posts Tagged ‘bio09’

BIO 2009: The Ubiquitin Protease System: Deja Vu, or Something New?

Wednesday I attended the ‘Where to Find the Drugs: The Ubiquitin Component Systems, Are They the Next Generation Kinases?’ Breakout Session (see Tuesday’s post for more details), and learned about the extraordinary opportunities and challenges for drug discovery in this area. Velcade is the first drug targeting the Ubiquitin Proteaseome System (UPS), introduced by Millennium in 2007 for multiple myeloma and generating $1B revenue in 2008. While success of a drug targeting a class of molecules is often ‘paves the way’ for future drugs, it was clear from the session that a lot research is still needed to explore the mechanisms that can be exploited for therapeutics. The UPS is a complex network of enzymes and protein components designed to break down proteins, part of the the important ‘ecosystem’ necessary to maintain the proper functioning of the cell and prevent malignancy (2006 review). The borders between the UPS and kinase signaling systems are essentially non-existent, and there are many parallels. The E3 protein components represent the largest family, with 600 members, similar to kinases. There are a wide variety of enzyme functions found in the UPS, which makes it distinct from the kinases, which mostly catalyze one type of reaction. […]

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BIO 2009: Biotech: A Place for Social Media?

Tuesday at the BIO convention, I attended a session titled ‘Spreading the Word: New Technologies Mean Everyone is a Journalist,’ which covered how new media such as blogs and twitter are being used and are shaping communication in the biotechnology industry. The panelists were Brian Reid, Media Director, Weisscomm Partners, Ed Silverman, Bureau Editor, Elsevier Business Intelligence, Jen S. McCabe, Chief Patient Advocate at Organized Wisdom, Shwen Gwee, Lead Business Analyst, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Jerry Johnson, Executive Vice President, Brodeur Partners. Ed Silverman was the only ‘classical’ journalist in the panel (by training) and commented early in the session that although the canons of traditional media have legitimate reservations about this new class of ‘reporters,’ that they can be seen as ‘insects’ that are quicker and will likely take over when the ‘dinosaurs’ of old media crumble. Ed has watched the dynamics and power of new media as Pharmalot, the blog-style Pharma news website that he pioneered, rose to meteoric fame. Jen McCabe, who gave her presentation in clear ‘web 2.0’ style, walking through the audience, clarified that she sees herself as a ‘recorder, not a reporter.’ She proved this by twittering from her pink Mac throughout the event. This […]

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2 Days, 2 Knights: Sir Philip Cohen Speaks About the Ubiquitin Proteasome System Today

Sir Elton John gave an inspiring and eye-opening keynote speech yesterday about the success and shortcomings of HIV/AIDS research, and I know many of us are still thinking about how we can further the science and make the necessary improvements in education to make a difference. Today, BIO is featuring Sir Philip Cohen, another Knight of the British Empire, often seen as the ‘father’ of kinase biology/phosphorylation research, and one of the most cited scientists in Europe. Sir Cohen, Director of the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, University of Dundee, and Director of the Scottish Institute for Cell Signaling, is speaking in a Breakout Session this morning titled ‘Where to Find the Drugs: The Ubiquitin Component Systems, Are They the Next Generation Kinases?’ He is cited as saying “I am very confident that the (Ubiquitin Proteasome System) market has the potential to become even bigger than Kinases.” The speaker lineup at this 10:00 a.m. session is impressive, including Dr. Frank Mercurio, CSO, BioTheryX, Dr. Mark Manfredi, Director of Cancer Pharmacology, Takeda/Millenium, Prof. Mike Tyers, CH Waddington Professor of Systems Biology at Univ. Edinburgh, Dr. Giovanni Ferrara, ITI Life Sciences Advisory Board, and Dr. Sheridan Snyder, Founder, BioCatalyst International. This session was […]

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BIO 2009 Spotlight: Innovation in Ireland: Merrion Pharmaceuticals

I spent part of Monday morning in the Ireland Pavilion (#3303) talking with them about the biotechnology they’re highlighting at the BIO convention, as well as the region as well. I spoke with Jonathan O’Connell, Chief Financial Officer of Ireland’s Merrion Pharmaceuticals, about the announcement they made last week (PDF) regarding preliminary results on Orazol™, a tablet formulation of the Novartis drug Zometa®. The company acquired a unique drug delivery technology from Elan in 2004 which boosts absorption in the intestine. As a result, therapeutics that are normally given only by injection can be formulated as tablets, leading to many benefits, including safer treatment, less pain, and improved pharmaeconomics. At BIO 2009, Merrion is focused on partnering their Phase 2 compounds, and continues to develop and seek out therapeutics which are amenable to their technology, including, notably, insulin, which they are working on with Novo Nordisk. Personally, I found the technology to be very promising and I suggest that you seek them out in the Ireland Pavilion. I also spoke with Sean Davis from Enterprise Ireland (EI), which ‘fosters’ companies like Merrion in their early development phase. Davis says that EI has been around for 35 years and currently takes […]

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