World’s First Stem Cell Drug, From Osiris, Approved by Health Canada
Columbia-based Osiris Therapeutics has received market authorization from Health Canada to market its stem cell therapy Prochymal for the treatment of acute graft-vs.-host disease (GvHD) in children.
The decision marks the world’s first regulatory approval of a manufactured stem cell product and the first therapy approved for GvHD — a complication of bone marrow transplantation that kills up to 80% of children affected, many within just weeks of diagnosis.
“I am very proud of the leadership role Canada has taken in advancing stem cell therapy and particularly gratified that this historic decision benefits children who would otherwise have little hope,” said Andrew Daly, M.D., clinical associate professor, Department of Medicine and Oncology, at the University of Calgary, Canada, and principal investigator in the phase 3 clinical program for Prochymal. “As a result of Health Canada’s comprehensive review, physicians now have an off-the-shelf stem cell therapy in their arsenal to fight GvHD.”
Prochymal was authorized under Health Canada’s Notice of Compliance with conditions (NOC/c) pathway, which provides access to therapeutic products that address unmet medical conditions and which have demonstrated a favorable risk/benefit profile in clinical trials. Under the NOC/c pathway, the sponsor must agree to carry out confirmatory clinical testing.
“Today is a great day for children and their families who bravely face this horrific disease. While today marks the first approval of a stem cell drug, now that the door has been opened, it will surely not be the last,” said Randal Mills, president and CEO of Osiris.
Sun-Tracking Solar EV Charging Station Debuts at Win Kelly
A high-efficiency, high-visibility solar-powered car-charging system made by a Columbia company is giving electric vehicle (EV) owners a means to refuel their vehicles with clean energy — and a way for businesses to attract and serve this new class of consumer.
Advanced Technology & Research Corp. (ATR), an engineering and manufacturing firm, recently installed its first high-efficiency, small-footprint Sun-Tracking Solar EV Charging Station at Win Kelly Chevrolet/Buick/GMC of Clarksville, which sells the Chevy Volt.
The Sun-Tracking Solar Car-Charger, with six solar panels set on an 18-foot-tall pole, is highly visible, yet it occupies only about the same ground footprint as a light pole. The system’s solar array utilizes ATR’s GPS-based sun-tracking technology to produce 30% to 45% more power than rooftop or canopy-mounted solar panels. The pole-top mount keeps the panels well overhead and the system is grid-tied to assure continuous availability of charging power.
“The ATR Sun-Tracking Solar EV Charging Station is amazing,” said Kevin Bell, Win Kelly’s president. “It generates free solar power to charge our electric vehicles, and when not in use charging a vehicle, it feeds back into the grid. Its biggest asset, though, is that it makes a dramatic and immediate merchandising statement that we sell EVs and are a green company,” Bell said.
Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) Director Malcolm Woolf said that “ATR’s application of innovation and engineering expertise has produced a terrific hybrid system that helps pave the way for the growing number of electric vehicles in Maryland,” noting that an MEA grant using federal stimulus funds is helping bring the charger to market.
Sourcefire Ranked as Fastest-Growing Company in Forbes’ Fast Tech 25
Sourcefire has been cited as the fastest-growing security company on Forbes’ 2012 Fast Tech 25 List, the magazine’s annual list of America’s 25 Fastest-Growing Tech Companies.
Overall, Columbia-based Sourcefire was named the 11th fastest-growing tech company in the nation. This year’s placement was fueled by Sourcefire’s global growth, as the company was recognized in the No. 15 slot in 2011 and the No. 18 slot in 2010.
Forbes examined more than 5,000 publicly-traded technology companies, seeking companies with at least $150 million in revenues and a market value of at least $500 million. Firms also were required to show sales growth of at least 10% for each of the past three fiscal years and three-to-five-year estimated earnings-per-share growth rates more than 10%. Companies were then ranked on their three-year average sales growth rates.
Sourcefire also recently announced independent test results from NSS Labs, demonstrating that its FirePOWER appliances protected against 99% of all attacks, exceeding it’s previous industry record of 98% set in 2011. NSS Labs results demonstrate Sourcefire’s consistency in security effectiveness and exceptional performance and scalability.
New Technology Will Speed Bridge Replacement Process on Route 295
The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has announced an ambitious plan to replace two West Nursery Road bridges over Maryland Route 295 (the Baltimore-Washington Parkway) in Anne Arundel County during only two weekends this fall.
The SHA will build the bridges in the parkway median, then move them into place using specialized equipment called self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs). The multi-axle, multi-wheel hydraulic SPMT can transport extraordinarily heavy loads.
“After building the 76-foot-long, 215-ton bridges in the median, crews will literally roll them into place at about four miles per hour,” said SHA Administrator Melinda Peters. “This innovative construction project is safer for drivers and crews because the work zone is out of traffic and the duration is shorter by nearly nine months.”
Approximately 22,000 vehicles use West Nursery Road every day traveling on the 63-year-old bridges. The new bridges will be 59 feet wide, which is six feet wider than the existing structures. There will be two travel lanes and five-foot-wide shoulders able to accommodate bicyclists.
Crews recently started the $5.3 million project, installing concrete barriers along the parkway median north of the West Nursery Road overpass. Both bridges will be completely built in the median on temporary towers; once complete, the SHA will select two weekends to install the bridges, requiring the interchange and one direction of the highway to be closed. SHA will post detours and give advance notice.
Swaim-Staley Stepping Down as MDOT Secretary
Beverley Swaim-Staley, the first woman to be appointed as Maryland’s Transportation Secretary, will step down from that position after 25 years of state service. She was appointed secretary by Gov. Martin O’Malley in September 2009. Her resignation is effective July 1.
Prior to taking the position, Swaim-Staley served as deputy transportation secretary from 2007–09. She had previously served as deputy secretary from 1999 through 2003, during which time she also directed all operations at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent revolution in airport security.
She also directed initiatives to assure Maryland’s national prominence in the area of minority business development by enhancing the state’s Minority Business Enterprise Program; and developed the first office within MDOT dedicated to comprehensively addressing equity and diversity issues.
Constellation Falls 27 Spots in Fortune 500
While five other Maryland-based corporations appear in the new Fortune 500 publicly-traded companies (by revenue), recently sold Constellation Energy Group is still the only Baltimore-area company to make this year’s cut.
Constellation, which came in at No. 199 with revenue of $13.8 billion, fell from No. 172 on last year’s list, when its revenue was 4.1% higher. The corporation was sold in March to Chicago’s Exelon Corp., which checked in at No. 145, with revenue of $18.9 billion.
The other Maryland-based corporations on the 2012 list were led by Lockheed Martin at No. 58, with 2011 revenue of $46.7 billion. It was followed by Marriott International (No. 217, $12.3 billion), Coventry Health Care (No. 219, $12.2 billion), Catalyst Health Solutions (No. 455, $5.3 billion) and Host Hotels & Resorts (No. 479, $5 billion). The above five companies are based in Bethesda, aside from Catalyst, which is headquartered in Rockville.
Exxon Mobil topped this year’s Fortune 500 with $452.9 billion in revenue, thus reclaiming the top spot from Wal-Mart, which came in second with revenue of $446.9 billion.
Businessweek Names UM, Loyola Among Top Undergrad B-Schools
The University of Maryland (UM) and Loyola University Maryland were named among the top undergraduate business schools in the country by Bloomberg Businessweek. They were the lone schools from the state represented on the list.
UM ranked 38th and Loyola (which operates a campus in Columbia) 62nd overall, respectively, out of the124 colleges in the ranking. UM moved up a spot from its 2011 rank, while Loyola fell from No. 45. Bloomberg Businessweek based its rankings on the responses of more than 28,000 students at the schools.
The publication assigned rankings in 14 academic disciplines per school, ranging from entrepreneurship and ethics to marketing and sustainability. For example, the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business was the top ranked school overall. It came in first in ethics and in the top 5 in accounting, finance, sustainability and other disciplines, though it ranked in the middle of the pack in international business.
The Robert H. Smith School of Business at UM had relatively average rankings across the board. Although 38th overall, Maryland’s highest ranked discipline was sustainability at 46, while its lowest ranked discipline was macro economics at 108.
Maryland Gets ‘D-’ in Supports for New Parents in the Workforce
A new state-by-state analysis that was released before Mother’s Day illustrates how little the nation supports and protects working mothers and fathers when a new child arrives — and how Maryland is nearly failing its new parents.
The report, “Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents,” is an analysis of state laws and regulations governing paid leave and workplace rights for new parents in the United States. Maryland earned a grade of D- for its policies.
The analysis was conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. The full report, which includes grades for all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on the enactment of select laws that expand upon federal leave and workplace protections, can be found via www.nationalpartnership.org.
“Maryland’s grade of ‘D-’ is striking, considering that women make up 49% of the workforce in the state and 76% of Maryland children live in families in which all parents work, and 79,000 Maryland women gave birth in the 2009–10 year alone (the most recent data available),” said the partnership’s president, Debra Ness. “Without access to some wages or job security, these workers and families often have no choice but to sacrifice much-needed income or their jobs when a new child arrives. This causes them to risk their economic security and their health.”
Howard Council Passes Legislation to Protect Homeowners, Common Ownership Community Associations
The Howard County Council voted to enact Council Bill 10-2012, which supports homeowners associations, fights for the value of all neighborhoods and ensures that the associations can create an environment that attracts potential homebuyers and satisfies the needs of the community.
The bill will permit a homeowner seeking a rental license to self-certify to the Department of Inspections, Licenses & Permits (DILP) that s/he is not behind on association fees. Under an amendment, DILP’s policy to determine whether a license to should be issued, renewed, revoked or suspended will be based upon an association’s ability to provide proof of a final adjudicatory action issued by the court system.
Currently, county communities are experiencing problems collecting fees from homeowners with rental properties. This not only impacts the association’s ability to effectively represent the community, but the condominium owner’s association (COA) delinquency rate impacts accessibility to obtain FHA financing.
According to a survey by the Community Associations Institute, national home owners association (HOA) and COA delinquency rates have more than doubled since 2005.
In Maryland, there are 429 condominium communities of which 265 (62%) do not have FHA certification. Of the 131 units found in Howard County, 75 have expired FHA certification, which is approximately 57% of the COAs in Howard County.
Record First Quarter for BWI Marshall
For the first quarter of 2012, 4,932,590 commercial passengers flew through BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. This passenger traffic figure, an increase of 2.6% from the same period in 2011, represents a new all-time record for the first quarter.
Southwest Airlines, the leading carrier at BWI Marshall, served more than 2.8 million passengers during the first three months of 2012, a 5.6% increase from the same period in 2011. Other airlines to show growth for the quarter include JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, USAirways and British Airways. In addition, total cargo shipments for the first quarter rose 3.2% to 57.7 million pounds.
Later this year, several airlines will offer additional service at BWI Marshall. Southwest plans to offer 199 daily departures during the peak summer travel period, the most service the airline has ever offered from BWI Marshall.
For international service, Condor Airlines of Germany will start twice-weekly seasonal flights from BWI Marshall to Frankfurt, Germany, in July. And in June, work is scheduled to begin on a major terminal enhancement program at BWI Marshall. The improvements will include a new security checkpoint, a secure connector between Concourses B and C with new passenger amenities, and an improved Concourse C facility.
Consultant Team to Work on City Dock Master Plan
Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen announced that the city has retained a consultant team to assist the citizen-led City Dock Advisory Committee (CDAC) in formulating a plan to revitalize the City Dock.
This specialized nine-member team brings experience and expertise in urban waterfront redevelopment in historic contexts, development economics and public private partnerships, zoning, urban and civic design, and the intricacies of downtown parking and mobility.
The team will involve the public by holding two public forums and five interactive meetings with the CDAC to provide transparency and allow for meaningful and ongoing public input. The Master Plan will address pedestrian accessibility issues at City Dock including standing water, narrow or obstructed sidewalks, parking and traffic concerns.