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July 12, 2005

New River and Ernest Gallo Team Up To Tackle Tolerance

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Posted by Zack Lynch

New River Pharmaceuticals (NRPH), a Neurotech Index 30 company, entered into a licensing agreement with the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at UCSF to investigate a new approach toward improving the use of opioid analgesics in the treatment of pain by reducing the development of tolerance.

According to a press release, preclinical work has suggested that doses of methadone administered with morphine at certain ratios could be used to increase analgesia and decrease the potential for opioid tolerance and dependence.

While opiates are extremely effective pain-killers, like all medications, they come with side effects, such as tolerance and in some cases addiction.

Under the agreement, New River will pay a licensing fee, potential milestones and royalty payments in exchange for an exclusive license to pursue the commercial development of the technology for the treatment of pain.

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July 11, 2005

The Brain Business -- Great Potential and Big Risks

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Posted by Zack Lynch

Monday's Mercury News had an excellent feature article written by Steve Johnson on "The Brain Business." It highlights several of the neurotech industry findings found in the report my company recently published on the industry. Here is a bit of the article (see the Mercury News website for more....


By Steve Johnson

Mercury News

The prospect of a billion people nearing the age when they risk brain-related illnesses like Alzheimer's disease or chronic pain is helping fuel a costly scramble by biotechnology firms to find solutions.

The Bay Area has more than 30 companies, out of about 300 worldwide, developing brain-related products for everything from sleep and anxiety disorders to multiple sclerosis and stroke. Much of the focus of ``the brain industry,'' as it is dubbed, is on finding treatments for ailments likely to hit aging baby boomers.

``The demand for better cognitive therapeutics is exploding,'' concluded a study of the brain industry made public this month by NeuroInsights, a San Francisco research firm. ``One quarter of the population will be at high risk for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease by 2025.''

The report estimated the worldwide revenue for this neurotechnology niche at $100 billion last year, a 13 percent increase from 2003, with the lion's share of that produced by a few established drug companies. As potentially lucrative as the brain business is, however, it's extremely risky, even for the notoriously precarious biotechnology industry.

``There's an incredible market for this stuff, but it's a tough field,'' said Samuel Barondes, director of the Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco.

Most of the niche's newcomers don't have products on the market yet and may not make a profit for years.

....more here (sign in necessary, but worth it)

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June 22, 2005

Daily Neurotech Public Market News

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Posted by Zack Lynch

If you want to stay abreast of the last public market news for neurotechnology companies then check out the Neurotech Market NewsFeed by NeuroInsights. I use it everyday.

Neurotechnology is the fastest growing unmet medical market. If you are a long term investor, I recommend taking a closer look at the brain industry. In 2004, the NeuroInsights' Neurotech Index was up 27.1% compared to respective gains of 10.9% and 8.6% for the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite Index. The Neurotech Index also outpaced the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index, another life sciences oriented measure of the public markets, which grew by 5.1% in 2004.

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June 13, 2005

Micro Therapeutics Gaining Traction in Neurodevice Market

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Posted by Zack Lynch

by Casey Lynch, NeuroInsights

When Tom Wilder left Medtronic to join the neurovascular company Micro Therapeutics he saw a major untapped market opportunity and a floundering company with the potential to execute where bigger companies, like Medtronic, were hesitating. Since then, he has quietly transformed Micro from an over hyped single product company into one with a broad technology suite. For the 2005 first quarter, net sales increased to $11.4 million, a 50% increase over net sales of $7.6 million in the comparable period a year ago.

The neurovascular intervention market, which includes specialized catheters and guidewires for reaching complex cerebral arteries along with stents and embolic coils for treating brain aneurysms, was almost $500 million in 2004 with 20% annual growth. While Boston Scientific (BSX) is far and away the market leader in the space with 60% market share, smaller companies like Micro Therapeutics, Micrus, and Microvention are showing that they can compete by focusing on specific needs of neurovascular physicians and continuing to introduce innovative products.

When Micro went public in 1997 (MTIX), the focus was entirely on their liquid embolic product, Onyx, which can be used to prevent hemorrhagic stroke by stabilizing aneurysms (weak and bulging areas of a blood vessel). When Onyx suffered a major setback in 2002 many investors ran for the hills. The risk of using a liquid embolic to fill most aneurysms, considering that some of the liquid polymer might be placed into the blood supply and even clog normal vessels, was simply too high to justify its use under normal circumstances.

However, the company continued to develop Onyx for appropriate indications including sealing of arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) prior to surgical removal and filling of irregular aneurysms. After using Onyx to treat over 5000 patients in Europe and completing final labeling discussions with the FDA last month, Micro expects to receive PMA approval for use of Onyx in AVMs any day now.

But the real story is not with Onyx anymore. Under Wilder’s direction, the company acquired more conventional embolic coil technology from Germany’s Dendron and subsequently developed it in house into revenue generating products. Micro’s latest generation coil, dubbed ICE, which will be introduced this year has improved resiliency over standard platinum coils which helps keep the coil from deforming over time and collapsing under pressure from the blood vessel. Additionally, the coil has bioactive properties to promote healing of the aneurysm “neck” where it buds from the blood vessel.

Micro’s coils and other bread and butter products for neurovascular surgeons generated $35 million in 2004 revenue with almost 50% annual growth. With the closing of their German plant, the company is continuing to improve product margins, currently at 64%, and expects to be profitable by Q4.

While MTIX is generally being overlooked, their majority stock holder (70%) and product distributor, ev3, is about to go public. The pricing of the IPO announced 5/31 indicates that the company expects to bring in about $200 million to pay off debt and pursue “corporate objectives.” With Micro's products representing a good part of ev3's revenues, it's not much of a stretch to speculate that Micro shareholders might benefit from a successful ev3 IPO.

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May 24, 2005

Neurotech News for Public Markets Updated Every 15 Minutes

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Posted by Zack Lynch

To compliment the development of NeuroInsights' Neurotech Index we have also developed a neurotech market news feed that brings up-to-the minute market news on public neurotech companies. Here are a sampling of the latest neurotech news items at of 11:30 am EST for May 24th: (updated market news can be found by following the above link)

Eyetech Falls Despite Brazilian Approval (AP) May 24, 2005 06:21:33 am. Eyetech Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Tuesday that it received approval for its age-related macular degeneration treatment Macugen in Brazil, but its shares plummeted following positive data released on a competing Genentech Inc. treatment.
Genentech's Lucentis Could Eclipse Macugen (at May 24, 2005 05:54:34 am
Prana Biotechnology to Present at the Needham & Company Fourth Annual Biotechnology Conference (PR Newswire) May 24, 2005 05:30:00 am
DOV Pharmaceutical, Inc. to Present at The Fourth Annual Needham Biotechnology Conference (PR Newswire) posted on May 24, 2005 05:00:00 am
New River Pharma upgraded by Wells Fargo Sec ( May 24, 2005 04:40:32 am
Amarin Corporation Plc Announces First Quarter 2005 Earnings Conference Call (PR Newswire) posted on May 24, 2005 04:35:00 am. Amarin Corporation lc today announced that it will be discussing its first quarter 2005 results in a conference call at 9.00 am on Thursday, May 26th, 2005. Rick Stewart, chief executive officer, and Alan Cooke, chief financial officer, can be heard by dialling +1--968-7995 in the U.S. or +1--679-8403 elsewhere.
Bio-logic Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2005 Results (Business Wire)
posted on May 24, 2005 04:00:00 am. Bio-logic Systems Corp., a designer and marketer of computerized medical electro-diagnostic equipment and disposables, today reported financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended February 28, 2005.

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