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Company News: ProBioGen Announces the Appointment of Dr. Volker Sandig to Chief Scientific Officer

– Former CSO Dr. Uwe Marx leaves for academia –

ProBioGen AG, a leading biotechnology company in cell engineering and production of biopharmaceuticals, today announced that Dr. Volker Sandig has been appointed to Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of the company. He will take over the duties of Dr. Uwe Marx, who will take an opportunity to lead an entrepreneurial innovation team at the Technical University Berlin.

Dr. Sandig has established ProBioGen´s cell line development program in 2000 and has been responsible for the development of high producer cell lines and the customized design of new cell lines from primary sources. Prior to joining ProBioGen, he held senior management positions at Merck Research Laboratories, USA, focusing on the development of manufacturing systems for gutless adenoviruses. Using his knowledge in viral vectors, he also participated in Merck´s vaccine program. Earlier in his career, he designed experimental strategies for adenovirus-based tumor treatment and directed research projects in cell cycle regulation and artificial promoters at Max Planck Society and Hepavec, a Berlin-based biotech company. After finishing medical training, Volker Sandig received his PhD in Molecular Biology from Humboldt University, Berlin.

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Food for Thought: Are We Really the Prey? Nanotechnology as Science and Science Fiction

In his 2002 novel Prey, Michael Crichton develops a scary scenario about the impact of “molecular manufacturing”, i.e. the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information & communication technologies. The concept focuses on the risks of self-replicating, so-called  “nanoscale assemblers” and was originally published by scientists K. Eric Drexler (former co-founder of the Foresight Institute) and Richard Feynman. Criticized and challenged by fellow scientists such as Nobel Prize winner Richard Smalley, the concept of molecular manufacturing nevertheless reflects society´s fear of novel, unknown technologies – specifically, the fear of losing control over some seemingly overwhelming artificial power.

In their paper “Are We Really the Prey? Nanotechnology as Science and Science Fiction“, Australian scientists Diana M. Bowman, Graeme A. Hodge, and Peter Binks have analyzed the impact, chances and risks of the molecular manufacturing concept. Calling not only for improving the regulatory framework on novel technologies such as nanotechnology, their key conclusion is that “unwillingness to engage in public dialogue is a consumer and citizen backlash waiting to happen, as was experienced with biotechnology. Current real developments in nanotechnology offer exciting opportunities to advance the human condition; however, implausible ideas framed by some scientists only serve to influence the creative talents of science fiction writers, like Crichton, who then prey on the public’s lack of knowledge of the current boundaries of nanotechnology for entertainment’s sake.”

Consequently, the advancement of innovative products does not only call for more adequate regulatory conditions, but also – and most importantly – for the willingness and proactivity of both the scientific community and innovation-driven companies to increasingly address and interact with the general public. As it has turned out, the acceptance of innovative technologies by the public may be the crucial key to success or failure.

Source:  “Are We Really the Prey? Nanotechnology as Science and Science Fiction”, by Diana M. Bowman, Graeme A. Hodge and Peter Binks, Bulletin of Science Technology Society 2007; 27; 435. An online version of the paper is available here

Company News: MediGene Reports Financial Results for the Fiscal Year 2009 and Announces New CFO

MediGene AG today reported the results for its fiscal year 2009 and an outlook for 2010. Moreover, the company announced that its Chief Financial Officer Dr. Thomas Klaue will resign from office after the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on May 11, 2010. He will be succeeded by Arnd Christ, formerly CFO of Swiss-based biotech company NovImmune. For further details, please click here.

Company News: Affectis Pharmaceuticals Raises €3.3M in Financing and Names Alex Martin Chief Executive Officer

Affectis Pharmaceuticals AG today announced it has raised €3.3M in the first tranche of a Series D financing. Existing investors LSP, Aescap Venture, KfW, Bayernkapital and EMBL Ventures were participating in the round. Moreover, the company announced the appointment of Alex Martin as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Martin had previously served on the Supervisory Board of Affectis and joined the company fulltime as CFO in August of 2009. He succeeds founding CEO Herbert Stadler, who is retiring.

Mr. Martin brings over 20 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including roles at Novartis, where he was Vice President, Global Business Development & Licensing, and SmithKline Beecham where he held positions of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing, and business development. Immediately prior to Affectis Mr. Martin served as COO of Intercept Pharmaceuticals based in New York.

The full announcement is available at Affectis’  website.

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