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Cliff on December 17th, 2014
"On Feb. 7, 2012, Robert Heft sold his biotechnology company, Montreal-based Enobia, to U.S. pharmaceutical giant Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. for the robust price of $1.1-billion (U.S.) – the largest sale of a private, precommercial biopharmaceutical company, according to industry experts."

"Dr. Heft and his colleagues achieved a rarity in the industry. They had attracted the attention of Big Pharma and cashed in."

"Biotech can involve long timelines, be capital intensive and experience high business failure rates. Some investors and larger companies seek safety in size, making Canada’s mid-sized biotech companies an attractive market – as long as they can mitigate their risk, secure investors and reach the first stages of commercialization."

"It was Enobia’s lead therapy, asfotase alfa, a treatment for the life-threatening bone disease hypophosphatasia, that sealed the deal with Alexion. The therapy was more than six years in the making and became the company’s primary focus after Dr. Heft took over as Enobia’s president in late 2005. Enobia used more than $150-million to gather preclinical data on asfotase alfa and wanted to bring this treatment to patients suffering from this disease. Today, Alexion has brought the drug through its Phase 2 clinical trials."

"Canada’s life sciences biotechnology sector is a significant part of the economy. Drug manufacturers alone shipped $10.5-billion worth of goods manufactured in Canada, and contributed almost $4.6-billion to Canada’s gross domestic product in 2012, according to Statistics Canada. But they need to make it to the commercialization stage first – something many struggle to achieve."

"Unlike other sectors, such as mining or oil and gas, biotech companies are generally developing their product with the hope of attracting attention from potential partners or buyers."

From +The Globe and Mail

Canadian biotech companies aim to be eaten by bigger fish
In this risky sector, Canadian mid-sized businesses are attractive to larger corporations, which are able to bring products across the finish line. But they have to grow big enough to be enticing


"A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate late last week that would provide a drug maker with an unprecedented 15 years of data exclusivity for a medicine that meets an unmet medical need."

"The legislation – which is essentially a companion piece to a bill that was introduced last year in the U.S House of Representatives – is called the Dormant Therapies Act. The idea is to offer an incentive to drug makers, which would have to request that a new drug – and only a new drug – is designated as a dormant therapy by the FDA."

"Currently, drug makers can receive five years of data exclusivity for a new prescription medicine and 12 years for a biologic. However, the pharmaceutical industry has regularly complained that time-consuming R&D needed to obtain regulatory approval eats away at exclusivity periods, effectively preventing drug makers from gaining the full benefit."

"The bill closely resembles the Modernizing our Drug & Diagnostics Evaluation and Regulatory Network Cures Act. Also known as the Modern Cures Act, this legislation also offers 15 years of data exclusivity for new medicines that are designated as dormant therapies that would address unmet medical needs. Although it has not made any progress, there are now 94 co-sponsors."

"The underlying notion in both bills, however, has also been criticized over concerns that, by extending data exclusivity beyond the existing timeframes, the law could slow the introduction of lower-cost generic versions of many drugs."

From Pharmalot – +Wall Street Journal

Senate Bill Offers 15 Years of Data Exclusivity for Drugs for Unmet Needs
A bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate late last week that would provide a drug maker with an unprecedented 15 years of data exclusivity for a medicine that meets an unmet medical need.


"A new graphics file format, proposed by programmer Fabrice Bellard, could cut the file size of digital photos by half with far-reaching consequences."

"His new format, dubbed Better Portable Graphics (BPG), generates much higher quality images than JPEG for any given size of file."

"But, rather than improving on JPEG, BPG abandons it entirely, instead using a subset of a newer algorithm called High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which is an open-source standard designed primarily for video compression. Using this technique, BPG achieves roughly double the compression of JPEG, so a similar level of quality to JPEG can be achieved while creating a file of only half the size."

"This means picture-heavy web images could display at double speed, while a phone or camera could store twice as many images before it becomes full. Metered data allowances would allow for considerably more web browsing with lower data caps."

"HEVC, and hence BPG, also adds features not supported by JPEG, including greater dynamic range by increasing the maximum number of bits per pixel from 8 to 14 and adding support for transparency. It also allows for lossless compression modes where an exact copy of the original can be generated with no loss of quality."

"Despite the obvious performance gains of BPG, it’s unlikely to become a new standard image format, the problem being one of compatibility."

"With almost no existing software currently supporting the BPG format, it would take a lot for it to gain widespread popularity."

"More recently, in March 2014, Mozilla Research, the research arm of Mozilla Foundation, creators of the Firefox browser, announced the “mozjpeg” project."

"The aim of mozjpeg is to increase the compression performance of JPEG encoding while maintaining compatibility with existing picture viewing software."

"There is certainly demand for better image compression: On July 15th 2014, mozjpeg 2.0 was announced, along with a $60,000 donation from Facebook which is testing the use of mozjpeg to improve the compression of images on the social media site."

"BPG produces much smaller images than mozjpeg 2.0, but implementing it on site the size of with current browser software would be a compatibility nightmare as every application used to access the site would require additional code. However, adding support to Facebook’s own apps could be rather more feasible."

"BPG is available to try right now and is a great piece of work, but I expect any eventual still image format based on HEVC will need to carry the weight of a standards body such as the Joint Picture Experts Group itself."

From +Forbes

Half The Size Of JPEG: Could BPG Lead To A Double-Speed Web?
A new graphics file format, proposed by programmer Fabrice Bellard, could cut the file size of digital photos by half with far-reaching consequences. How are images made smaller? The vast majority of photos taken with a cameras or smartphones and nearly every image viewed on the Web is stored in the Joint […]


Cliff on December 15th, 2014
"Hello houseplants. They aren’t just pretty. Many of them do double duty in clearing out pollutants in the indoor air. This air purification factor has been widely shared thanks to NASA who in 1989 looked at which plants were best at filtering the air in their space stations. The Clean Air Study found that plants not only produce oxygen from CO2, but also absorb benzene, formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene. So why not try for the same effects in your own space?"

The article gives some top plant picks.

From +The Weather Network 

Insider Insights: Articles – Green indoors – plants that improve air quality – The Weather Network
It’s time to shift from outdoor gardening to keeping the green going inside.


Cliff on December 15th, 2014
Quote: Being a Leader