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February 24, 2010
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The Indianapolis-area claims three of the four healthiest counties in the state, but also some of the laggards, according to a new report by New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Hamilton, Hendricks and Boone counties ranked first, second and fourth, respectively. The rankings were based on such things as death rates, insurance rates, socioeconomic factors and environmental influences. However, Marion County ranked 80th out of Indiana’s 92 counties. Shelby and Madison counties also scored poorly, ranking No. 70 and No. 79, respectively.

Most of Indiana’s life sciences business development has occurred in the “golden triangle” that runs from Bloomington to Indianapolis to Lafayette. But the latest investment by BioCrossroads’ Indiana Seed Fund shows some potential for cross-state development that breaks out of that mold. South Bend-based Bioscience Vaccines Inc. has licensed the extracellular matrix technology developed by Cook Biotech in West Lafayette. With scientific help from the University of Notre Dame, Biosciences Vaccine aims to start a clinical trial by year’s end. It hopes that combining Cook Biotech’s extracellular matrix with vaccines against tetanus and prostate cancer will prove more effective than traditional delivery of the medicines. BioCrossroads will commit $400,000 to help the company’s research.

Indianapolis-based Vortek Surgical LLC will relocate to Brownsburg, expanding its headquarters, manufacturing and distribution operations and creating more than 60 life sciences jobs in the next three years. Founded in 2006, the company expects to launch a consumer subsidiary in the second quarter to focus on health care products. It plans to begin hiring employees for both the consumer and medical product divisions beginning in April. Vortek develops and markets medical devices designed to reduce the risk of hospital infections during surgery.

Indianapolis-based Marcadia Biotech Inc. has launched a Phase 1 clinical trial of its experimental anti-diabetes drug MAR701. The drug mimics the action of two hormones, glucagon-like peptide and gastric inhibitory peptide. Those proteins both boost the body’s production of insulin, which is necessary to fight diabetes. Marcadia hopes to market the drug as a once-a-week medicine to treat Type 2 diabetes.

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