Company news

August 4, 2010

With Eli Lilly, Roche Diagnostics and other large life sciences companies shedding jobs, Indiana needs small life sciences startups to fill the void. To help such companies, two former Lilly employees are starting an institutional review board that will help small companies launch clinical trials of their innovative technologies. Pearl IRB, based in Indianapolis, is run by Lilly alumnae Diana Caldwell and Gretchen Miller Bowker. It is, according to the Indiana Health Industry Forum, the first commercial institutional review board in the state. That’s significant because such boards must approve clinical trials before such research on humans can begin. Typically, universities and large hospitals have institutional review boards, but they are not normally available for researchers not affiliated in some way with those institutions.

Iraq war veteran Nate Richardson is now using his battlefield experience to launch his own business. His company, Anderson-based Coeus Technology, developed an antimicrobial liquid it says can be added to military uniforms and equipment to make them resistant to germs for longer periods of time than current products. The U.S. Army Material Command is currently testing Coeus’ MonoFoil Technology for its use. But Coeus is also pursuing sales of MonoFoil to civilian users, such as hospitals and schools. Coeus opened a year ago in Anderson’s Flagship Enterprise Center. It plans to add packing, filling and research facilities in the next two years, creating 30 to 50 jobs by 2012.

A team of researchers at Purdue University say they’ve found a new marker for prostate cancer that could replace the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that is now the leading indicator for the disease. Purdue chemist Graham Cooks and Purdue oncologist Timothy Ratliff led the team, which found that the compound cholesterol sulfate occurs in prostate cancer tumors but not in healthy prostate tissue. That stark difference could prove better than PSA, which sometimes appears at elevated levels in prostates that are inflamed or enlarged, but not cancerous.

The California-based Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded $364,000 to more than double Indiana University’s repository of fruit flies, which have served as the basis of most genetic research for the past century. The Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center houses 30,000 fruit fly strains and helps develop scientific tools that are used to design new fly strains. The new grant will allow the stock center to expand to as many as 70,000 fruit fly variants. When the stock center moved from the California Institute of Technology to Indiana University 25 year ago, it was home to only 1,675 strains.

Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences posted a profit of $196 million, up from $140 million in the same quarter last year, according to Bloomberg News. Second-quarter revenue increased 4 percent, to $1.3 billion, for the unit of Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. Company officials credited increased sales for Dow AgroSciences’ herbicides, including some new products, in spite of weather-related delays.