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Company news

January 19, 2011

Two Purdue University professors and a physician at the Indiana University School of Medicine have created a company to develop nanotechnology devices for medical diagnostic and therapeutic applications. NanoSense Inc., based in West Lafayette, will design tiny chips that can sense biological processes or the dosing of a medicine from inside a patient’s body. The company is led by IU’s Dr. Arthur Ko, a radiation oncologist; Purdue’s Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Teimour Maleki, a research professor at  Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center.

With a $167,000 grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, IUPUI will launch the Indiana Schweitzer Fellows Program on Friday. It is the 13th U.S. program site for the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program, which pays stipends to graduate students who work to address social and health disparities. The Indiana program will be run by Dr. Douglas B. McKeag, former chairman of family medicine at the IU School of Medicine. The grant will be used to implement the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Kids Countdown, a childhood obesity-prevention program, by Schweitzer Fellows throughout the state. The program will select 15 fellows and pay each of them an annual stipend of $3,000. Online applications are due March 1.

Endocyte Inc. priced shares for its initial public offering last week, moving one step closer toward raising more than $80 million to fund its cancer-drug development. The West Lafayette-based drug-development firm intends to sell 6.15 million shares for $13 to $15 apiece. That range would fetch $80 million to $92 million. Those figures include 802,500 shares that will be sold only if demand outstrips the initial allotment of shares of 5.35 million. If Endocyte sells only the smaller amount of shares, it would raise between $70 million and $80 million. In either case, more than $10 million of the funds would cover Endocyte’s costs in staging the IPO. Endocyte first indicated in August it would take itself public by selling shares worth $86.3 million, but not until Jan. 12 did it disclose the price range and number of shares to be sold. The company is developing six cancer drugs, most of which target cancer cells by binding to their receptors for the compound folate. Such receptors are “over-expressed” in cancer cells, compared with healthy cells, so Endocyte’s drugs have the potential to be more potent killing the cancers while attacking fewer healthy cells than existing chemotherapy agents. Endocyte’s leading drug, called EC145, is being tested to treat ovarian cancer that is resistant to platinum-based drugs, as well as to treat non-small-cell lung cancer.

Some health advocacy groups that say they are speaking for patients’ interests before legislatures, regulatory agencies or public forums fail to disclose their funding from Eli Lilly and Co. and other drugmakers, according to The New York Times. Citing a new study from Columbia University, the Times reported that Lilly paid $3.2 million to 161 health advocacy groups in the first half of 2007. But only one in four of the groups acknowledged Lilly’s support anywhere on their public websites, the study said. Only one in 10 disclosed Lilly as the sponsor of a specific grant, and none of them disclosed the exact amount. Lilly’s reports were studied because it was the first company to disclose such payments.

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