Company news

February 17, 2010

Forget venture capital. Forget selling the firm outright. ImmuneWorks, an Indianapolis-based biotech firm, is taking a different route to get early-stage funding for money-sucking biotech drug development. The company signed a joint development agreement with Lung Rx, a subsidiary of Maryland-based United Therapeutics Corp. Lung Rx will fund ImmuneWorks' research and development operations with the option of acquiring the firm. ImmuneWorks, based on the research of Dr. David Wilkes at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is trying to develop treatments for orphan lung diseases, which affect fewer than 200,000 people nationwide.

Looks like the changing of the guard in Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co.’s research operations is going beyond Dr. Steve Paul. In the same month Paul retired, his top lieutenant, Dr. William Chin, has taken a newly created job at Harvard Medical School. Chin was Lilly’s senior vice president for discovery research and clinical investigation. Paul was replaced by Jan M. Lundberg, former head of global discovery research at London-based AstraZeneca plc. Looks like Lundberg will be bringing in his own team.

Indiana University School of Medicine researchers have identified a mechanism by which tuberculosis evades the body’s immune system and have identified a compound that blocks the tuberculosis bacteria’s ability to survive. Those insights could lead to new drugs to treat tuberculosis. Zhong-Yin Zhang, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, was the lead author explaining the discoveries in in this week’s online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Zhang’s team also described an anti-tuberculosis compound they have synthesized, A09. The compound is now being evaluated in animals at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

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