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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 13, 2009

And That Is That

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Posted by Derek

I’d heard of Neose Pharmaceuticals on and off over the years. They’d been trying to make a go of it in carbohydrate-based drug discovery, an underappreciated and underserved niche. But late last year the company announced that it had run out of money and out of time. And if you really want to see what the end of the line looks like, well, this is it.

Comments (15) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


1. carbs on March 13, 2009 10:35 AM writes...

Neose funded my post-doc project involving targeted disruption of bacterial carbohydrate pathways. Interesting field with commercial potential in many areas. Sorry to see them go.

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2. carbs on March 13, 2009 10:37 AM writes...

Want to add that their failure may be their timing-sort of like those drugs that meander through development searching for an indication.

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3. RB Woodweird on March 13, 2009 11:35 AM writes...

Why don't they also auction off the scientists? Hell, I'd rather be on the block than on the street.

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4. processchemist on March 13, 2009 11:41 AM writes...

Where I work scale up of synteses of carbohydrates and glycosides is (were?) a strong core technology. Since 3 years we've seen all projects in the field fading in the "long standby" limbo or dropping dead (whith all the total syntheses of / semisyntheses from natural compounds).
Last few glimpses of life are in the anticoagulants field.

What's the reason? A perceived difficult chemistry? A chemistry for sure expensive to outsource (really hard to find good carbohydrate firms in asia) ?
Carbohydrate drugs on the market (relenza, fondaparinux, acarbose, topiramate etc) did'nt paid off? (but topiramate was one of the few J&J blockbusters, or am I wrong?)

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5. Sili on March 13, 2009 1:22 PM writes...

Is this a hint that you're birthday is coming up or summat?

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6. Ken on March 13, 2009 2:10 PM writes...

Back when I was a graduate student, I used to buy equipment from these sorts of auction. Pfizer's shutdown of a research facility in Michigan netted us the bulk of a new electrophysiology rig.

I also remember scoring a $5000 Wescor osmometer for $99.00, and a Bioptics live-cell imaging chamber for $100.

One company's misery is another lab's treasure.

It would appear as though the auction companies have grown more sophisticated in their pricing though. Pity.

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7. Ken on March 13, 2009 2:11 PM writes...

Back when I was a graduate student, I used to buy equipment from these sorts of auction. Pfizer's shutdown of a research facility in Michigan netted us the bulk of a new electrophysiology rig.

I also remember scoring a $5000 Wescor osmometer for $99.00, and a Bioptics live-cell imaging chamber for $100.

One company's misery is another lab's treasure.

It would appear as though the auction companies have grown more sophisticated in their pricing though. Pity.

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8. milkshake on March 13, 2009 3:04 PM writes...

I hear it is a ghoulish joy, walking about the out-of business labs and writing down the choicest pieces of equipment to bid on while the soon-to-be-unemployed dudes are still hanging around - taping boxes with their belongings, updating the resumes and mostly just slouching around, and whispering to you in a broken voice "you wouldn't know by chance about someone who is still hiring..."

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9. Chowder on March 13, 2009 11:17 PM writes...

Reminds me of this story about Yale rummaging through the warehouse at the old Wonder Drug Factory:,0,73713.story

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10. Thomas McEntee on March 14, 2009 9:10 AM writes...

There were four or five used plant equipment companies at the InformEx 2009 show in San Francisco in January. One company had some nice data sheets listing the reactors, filters, centrifuges, etc. in Building x at the Kalamazoo facility of a "major pharmaceutical company" with color pictures of some nice Hastelloy equipment, all for sale. One of the sales reps said that a lot of the equipment is making its way to China and India. Several purveyors of used lab equipment were at the Pittcon show this past week. As Ken (#6) points out, one company's misery is another's pleasure. But this has been been going on forever. Back in the 60s and 70s, we used to look in each issue of Chemical Engineering for the offerings of the Gelb Equipment Company...spiced up by the now-politically incorrect photo of the Gelb Girl, then a standard technique for advertising.

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11. Anonymous BMS Researcher on March 15, 2009 7:48 PM writes...

I got some spam emails from the folks auctioning off the NEOSE site last week, as I presume most of Big Pharma did.

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12. doctorpat on March 15, 2009 9:10 PM writes...

Our lab has equipment in it that has the name of the previous company still on it, and the company before that, and some vague markings from before that, and what looks like some old military stencils...

Some of the stuff looks like ex world war 2, and nobody knows what it is or what it does. But every so often someone walks in and "My goodness! That's an original Cable and Wireless dephilostagenator! I thought they were all lost in the Lucknow disaster. That's exactly what we need for our optic fibre rehabilitation rig. Does anyone want it?? Good."

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13. Anonymous BMS Researcher on March 17, 2009 8:52 PM writes...

My desk in graduate school was US Military surplus from just after World War Two when they gave tons and tons of such stuff to academic institutions. It looked exactly like you think it looked: extremely solid construction with multiple coats of dark green paint. Probably some graduate student is using it right now.

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14. milkshake on March 17, 2009 9:42 PM writes...

Anonymous BMS Rsearcher: This reminds me a story told by my former boss. He did his thesis work in USSR in 60s and at his institute in Kiev they had there a complicated and gorgeous all-quartz-glass ultra-high vacuum manifold apparatus that was brought back from Jena, Germany as a war trophy by the victorious Red Army. I asked him how they kept that thing functioning without the spare parts that no-one can make anymore - because all it takes is one broken stopcock anywhere along the vacuum line and the whole thing is useless. He looked at me and said, with a melancholic smile: "we had this old German from Jena who was working at our institute in Kiev..." Turns out the Red Army did not bring back just the apparatus, they also got the original glassblower to go with it.

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15. KwadGuy on March 20, 2009 8:21 AM writes...

YES! I remember seeing some of those old military surplus desks in the labs when I was in college (or was it grad school...where oh were have my brain cells gone?)

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