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Dome - An almost full house

May 2011

An almost full house

Date: May 20, 2011

The equipment is ordered and the search for staff is under way at Inostics, a German biotech company that is opening its first U.S. lab in the John G. Rangos Sr. Building.

Inostics intends to improve the development of cancer drugs using molecular diagnostic tools that can detect and monitor tumors through blood samples. Such noninvasive testing, developed through technology invented by Hopkins scientists, will determine what kind of therapy is best suited to individual patients over the course of their treatments.

“Baltimore provides a great location because it’s close to many of the pharmaceutical companies and research organizations that are currently our main clients,” says company co-founder and chief scientific officer Frank Diehl. “Working next to Hopkins offers opportunities to interact with key scientists in oncology.”

Inostics is one of the newest tenants at the $54 million research facility that opened three years ago with Hopkins’ Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a national nonprofit medical research organization, and Biomarker Strategies, a Hopkins-born venture developing a biomarker testing system to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Now more than 80 percent of the 278,000-square-foot building is leased to companies and nonprofits ranging from Cureveda, a Hopkins start-up focused on lung-related diseases, to the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, a neuroscience research institute dedicated to developing diagnostic tests and treatments for schizophrenia. The Hopkins Brain Science Institute is also headquartered there.

Many Rangos tenants have university connections. Diehl of Inostics spearheaded the development of molecular technologies useful for detecting colorectal cancer while he was working with Bert Vogelstein, director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics. Luis Alberto Diaz, assistant professor of oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, is one of the founders of  Personal Genome Diagnostics, another new biotech company located on the same floor as Inostics.

“There’s a general buzz in the building,” says Dan Edelstein, director of operations for Inostics in Baltimore. “Everybody seems excited and enthusiastic about each others’ ventures.”

Other tenants of the building, located at the corner of Ashland Avenue and North Wolfe Street, include:

• Champions Biotechnology Inc., a biotech company developing preclinical approaches and tumor-specific data to enhance the benefit of cancer drugs.

• IATRICa Inc., a biotech company using technology developed at Hopkins to prevent and treat cancer.

• Siemens Medical, a division of the multinational German products company. Siemens’ magnetic resonance group has established this center to work in conjunction and collaboration with Hopkins radiology.

• SoBran Inc., a technical and professional services company that offers preclinical testing services.

• Spectrum BioScience, a company that serves the building’s tenants in such areas as procuring chemicals, disposing of hazardous waste and managing inventory.

In addition, Teavolve, a café and lounge, and Cuban Revolution, a Cuban fusion eatery, have signed agreements to open next year.

Linell Smith