Michigan Life Sciences Roundup: Swift Biosciences, Aastrom

Michigan Life Sciences Roundup: Swift Biosciences, Aastrom

A few Southeast Michigan biotech companies are in the news today:

Swift Biosciences, based in Ann Arbor, has just rolled out its Accel-NGS DNA Library kit, the first in a suite of new products for next-generation sequencing sample preparation that the company plans to release in 2013.

“What we have is a kit that makes it easier to do more with less,” says Steve Spotts, the company’s chief commercial officer. He says Swift Biosciences’ kit can produce libraries without polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with as little as 5 nanograms of material. (PCR is a DNA amplification process.) The process is also faster—only 75 minutes from start to finish, Spotts says, which is about half the time of other, similar products currently on the market.

Spotts says scientists predict that we’re only a few years from being able to have our genome sequenced for about $1,000, which makes the company’s technology attractive to researchers and investors alike. “Sequencing is a field attracting huge amounts of money and interest,” he adds.

Ann Arbor-based Aastrom Biosciences (NASDAQ: ASTM) has announced Dominick Colangelo as its new CEO, replacing interim CEO Dan Orlando, who will now serve as the company’s chief commercial officer. Orlando had stepped in last December after longtime CEO Tim Mayleben retired, only to emerge about a month later to take a new gig as CEO of Esperion Therapeutics, the Plymouth, MI-based startup developing small-molecule drugs to lower cholesterol.

Colangelo is the former CEO of Promedior, a company developing protein therapeutics for fibrovascular disease. He also spent almost a decade working in business development for Eli Lilly. Colangelo says he has spent the bulk of his career acquiring, developing, and commercializing therapies to treat metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, which he thinks makes him a good fit at Aastrom. “The reason I was attracted to Aastrom is because it’s a leader in the cell therapy field,” he says. “I think Aastrom’s technology has tremendous potential.”

Colangelo says that Aastrom’s Phase 3 clinical study of ixmyelocel-T, the company’s multicell therapy for patients with critical limb ischemia who have no other treatment options—begun last year—continues to move forward with patient enrollment. Aastrom’s Phase 2 dilated cardiomyopathy trial is also ramping up patient enrollment, Colangelo adds.

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