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Biotechnology Comes of Age: Acquistions


Zip code 28077 - if you are into biotech, you know that's the US postal code for DNA Alley. A hot center of life sciences and technology along Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Medimmune, the most successful of the region's biotechnology firms, succumbed to investor/shareholder pressure to seek a buyer earlier this year. Industry analysts speculate that MedImmune's board held onto its independence out of sentimental attachment and should have sold sooner. AstraZeneca is seeking to acquire Medimmune for $15.6 billion, the biggest deal in a flurry of deals reported by the Washington Post today.

MedImmune, maker of FluMist and Synagis, was founded 19 years ago by former government scientist Wayne T. Hockmeyer. Medimmune has its research campus in Gaithersburg and its manufacturing center in Fredrick, Maryland. Per the Company History provided on MedImmune's website, the company was incorporated as Molecular Vaccines in 1987. The name was changed to MedImmune in 1990 and the IPO was released in 1991. RespiGam was the first medication it produced which was licensed by the FDA.

RespiGam is a really interesting drug - given intravenously, it is a vaccine against Respiratory Synctivial Virus prepared with sterilized human plasma immune globulins. It is given to prevent RSV in children under 24 months old, with bronchopulmonary dysplasia or a history of premature birth (less than or equal to 35 weeks gestation). In 1995, MedImmune formed strategic alliances with Baxter Healthcare Corporation (multinational), Human Genome Sciences, and BioTransplant. That same year, MedImmune acquired exclusive, worldwide rights to human papillomavirus technology developed at the University of Rochester. In 1996, MedImmune built the Maryland Frederick Manufacturing Center (FMC). MedImmune and GlaxoSmithKline formed a worldwide human HPV vaccine alliance in 1997. In 1999, MedImmune acquired US Bioscience whose product portfolio included oncology and infectious disease products. 2001 was a big year for the corporation: MedImmune entered the world of nanoparticles with Vitaxin- a monoclonal antibody linked or conjugated to a radioactive isotope targeting cancer cells, acquired Aviron, a biopharmaceutical company focused primarily on the development of vaccines, and the FDA approved its Enhanced Yield Process (EYP) for expediting production of its products. 2002: MedVentures, Inc. (venture capitalist subdivision for developing treatment or prevention products for human disease), acquired exclusive rights to develop products against the newly discovered human metapneumovirus. 2003: FluMist was approved, the Board of Directors announced a buyback of $500 million of common stock. 2004: MedImmune and Medarex announce plans to develop and commercialize fully human antibodies for autoimmune diseases. 2005: MedImmune expanded its patent estate with reverse genetics technology acquired from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

AstraZeneca is a multinational pharmaceutical company with a product portfolio focused on cardiovascular, neuroscience, gastrointestinal, infectious, oncologic diseases. At any rate, its a Brave New World, people. Make sure your kids stay in school and study science. Make sure you and your kids have basic literacy in science so that you, and they, understand decisions that are made that effect life on our planet. Does this bode well for the future? Are we going to use science to solve some of the problems that cause human suffering? Or...

Thank you wanderinghome, for use of photo Back Against the Wall.
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The Healthline Editorial team writes about the latest health news, policy, and research.

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