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MichBio Expo Shows Promise Of Biotech

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Michigan is again showing off its vibrant life sciences industry Tuesday and Wednesday at the MichBio Expo at the Marriott Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti.

Around 350 people are expected to attend for networking and presentations on both new and established pharmaceutical and medical device companies that might one day create high-tech, high-paying jobs in Michigan.

MichBio CEO Stephen Rapundalo acknowledged attendance was down from the 500 or so the event has attracted throughout most of its six-year history. But he said counterpart organizations in the rest of the country are also reporting declining attendance at their annual events.

“The industry is sustaining itself very nicely here in Michigan,” Rapundalo said. “We’ve clearly had some major winners. Many companies have focused on their bottom lines and are trying to weather out the economic climate, but they’re growing just fine and some are doing remarkably well.”

Rapundalo was particularly pleased with “a great crop of young companies” presenting Tuesday afternoon at the MichBio Expo 2010 Emerging Biosciences Showcase. Eight “pre-seed” and six “seed stage” companies were making presentations to an audience of venture capitalists, fellow entrepreneurs and service providers.

Presenting in the pre-seed track were:

* MitoStem Inc., provider of a custom service to create stem cell lines
* DataSpeaks Health Solutions Inc., provider of software to measure the benfit and harm of prescription drugs and other exposures on individuals
* RetroSense Therapeutics, which is developing gene therapy to restore vision in patients who have been blinded by retinal degenerative disorders
* OPS Solutions LLC, developer of the Light Guide System, intelligent light guidance to help guide and error-proof manufacturing and packaging processes
* Poly Bioinformatics, developer of automated chemical and pharmaceutical database annotation, search and discovery
* ADS Biotechnology Ltd., developer of a blood volume expander originally discovered at the University of Toledo
* ViaDerm LLC, developer of a novel device for the delivery of life-sustaining therapies via long-term access through the skin, without causing inflammation or infection
* Spinal Ventures LLC, developer and marketer of new minimally invasive devices for treatment of spinal compression fractures and spinal fusions, with applications in other bone problems

Presenting on the seed funding track were:

* Urobiologics LLC, develper of a medical test that tells couples when to conceive to get a baby of the desired gender.
* CytoPherx Inc., developer of medical devices used with anticoagulants to treat inflammation caused by kidney failure and heart bypass surgery.
* TSRL Inc., developer of therapeutics to treat drug-resistant flu, as well as smallpox, malaria and other diseases.
* NanoVir LLC, developer of an antiviral targeting the most prevalent human papilloma virus for treatment of cervical dysplasia, genital warts and other HPV-related diseases.
*ApoLife Inc., developer of a proprietary yeast system for highly efficient, cost-effective production of therapeutic monclonal antibodies, used to treat cancer and infectious diseases.
*RealBio Technology Inc., which is extending technology to grow large quantities of human cells quickly initially developed by Aastrom Biosciences Inc.

The companies were seeking funding of between $400,000 and $20 million to continue their growth.

The other major feature of the first day of the conference was a “Manufacturing Supplier Track,” intended for companies interested in getting into the medical device business. Included was a regulatory primer for the prospective medical device manufacturer, and tips and cautions from companies that have made the switch into medical devices, such as Livonia’s Roush Industries.

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