bellNEW HAVEN: Leonard Bell Co-founded Alexion Pharmaceuticals [Nasdaq: Alxn] in 1992 in a small lab in New Havens’ Science Park  with Stephen Squinto Ph.D.  and David Keiser. Today as Bell announces his retirement as Chairman, [ he retired as CEO in April of 2015] the company has a market capitalization of $29 billion and occupies the signature building in downtown New Haven housing more than 1,000 employees.  Keiser retired as president in 2008 as president and Squinto as Executive VP in 2014.

Dr. Bell's  efforts were first covered in Business New Haven in 1994 and he was recognized as a greater New Haven Healthcare Hero in 2011. Bell said of his departure and the future, “I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved over the past 25 years, and I have great confidence in the future of the company.. I am very much looking forward to spending increasing time with my family, and also exploring new and different opportunities.”

Alexion drug development has been toward rare diseases, but it still has been among the fastest growing and most successful start ups in Connecticut history. In 2008 when Keiser retired, Alexion had sales of $76 million, 2016 sales were $3.1 billion. As CEO, Bell engineered two major acquisitions in 2015 to diversify the company’s drug pipeline, totalling nearly $10 billion dollars in purchase costs, a gamble on two drugs that had not received final FDA approval.

[see The Future is Suddenly Uncertain and The News is Not Completely Good  ] the drugs Strensiq and Kanuma did receive approvals and while reportedly off to a slow start, are expected to eventually produce sales of more than $1.5 billion.

With a new headquarters, hefty profits, and more than $3 billion in sales, 2016 was to be the best year ever as Bell contemplated his retirement. A controversy and an internal investigation in November, led to questions about financial controls and the resignation of the company’s CEO and CFO.

In response to the allegation and investigations, Alexion stock began to tank and two class action lawsuits were filed.  By early January the company had an interim CEO, David Brennan a board member and former CEO of Pharma giant AstraZeneca  and it satisfied itself no material effect were caused by the shortcomings.

Before founding Alexion, Bell was an attending physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital and assistant professor of Medicine and Pathology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Bell’s current stock ownership of the company has a value of approximately $50 million.

CT aims to compete in precision medicine. What will it take?

By, Arielle Levin Becker,

HARTFORD: Connecticut has the potential to become a national leader in the growing field of precision medicine, which aims to tailor disease prevention and medical treatment to individuals’ unique genetic code, environment and experiences, scientists and industry officials told a state economic competitiveness panel Friday.

But that potential comes with caveats, several said: Connecticut is far from alone in seeking to be a top player in the field. Other states have put money into supporting the field, and Connecticut must too, some researchers said.

drpeter bowers anthem Alpern Robert wks YaleNews McGee Joe Fairfield Business council 2014 Dr Murat Gunel
Dr. Peter Bowers, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Dr. Robert Alpern, Yale School of Medicine  Joe McGee, Fairfield County Business Council Dr. Mural Gunel, Yale Center of Genomic Analysis

“This opportunity is huge from an economic perspective. I think the question is whether Connecticut wants to play,” Dr. Peter Bowers, chief medical officer at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, told members of the Connecticut Commission on Economic Competitiveness and the legislature’s Commerce Committee Friday.

During the meeting at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, commission members wrestled with issues including Connecticut’s ability to compete and whether there’s a role for people without college degrees in a field based on advanced science and medicine.


Genetic risk of autism spectrum disorder linked to evolutionary brain benefit

By Bill Hathaway

New Haven: Genetic variants linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may have been positively selected during human evolution because they also contribute to enhanced cognition, a new Yale study suggests.

A study based on a genome-wide association study of ASD conducted by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium and information regarding evolutionary gene selection showed that inherited variants linked to ASD were found under positive selection in larger numbers than would have been expected by chance.

The final version of the paper was published Feb. 27 in the journal PLOS Genetics.   

By, Mitchell Young

NEW HAVEN: When a company reports organic revenue growth of 18.6% year over year, hats typically get tipped to the company, all over Wall Street.
New Haven’s Alexion Pharmaceuticals [ NASDAQ: ALXN] did just that and more, its fourth quarter income was up substantially, from $67 million to $93 million. That’s real money, in anyone’s book, but there remain Alexion doubters still.

Alexion logo colorOnly a couple of months back the company parted ways with its CEO David Hallal and CFO Vikhas Sinha and installed an interim CEO, David Brennan a board member and former CEO of Astra Zeneca.


cancer Cell with nucleus 22123754NEW HAVEN:  A Yale-led research team has found that a melanoma cell and a white blood cell can fuse to form a hybrid with the ability to metastasize. The hybrid contains the properties of a white blood cell allowing it to migrate through the body taking the Cancer DNA in the hybrid along with it.

According to senior research scientist and study author John Pawelek collaborated with colleagues at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center and the Denver Crime Laboratory to examine how cancer spreads from solid tumors.

rosenberg uconnFARMINGTON: CaraGen an emerging immunotherapy company is collaborating with researchers at the University of Connecticut in Farmington to develop a vaccine for treatment of patients with colon cancer.

CaroGen employs what it says is a “transformative virus-like vesicle (VLV) platform technology” developed by Professor John Rose at Yale University School of Medicine  

and exclusively licensed to CaroGen.

The UCONN effort is being led by UConn Health Professor of Medicine, Daniel Rosenberg, PhD, the collaboration has a specific target studied by UConn researchers Kepeng Wang, assistant professor of immunology, and Anthony T. Vella, professor and Boehringer Ingelheim Chair in Immunology.

Internal Investigation, Lawsuits, Management Changes, A Failed Clinical Trial and New Competition, Heighten Speculation About the Future.

AlexionHQWinter2016NEW HAVEN: The Elm City’s new flagship company Alexion Pharmaceuticals [NASDAQ: ALXN] is finding itself under the microscope of lawyers, financial regulators, investment bankers and even bio-scientists as it reacts to significant financial and drug discovery events in the past 30 days.

In late November, the company announced an internal investigation into sales practices of its main revenue producing drug, Soliris. To date Soliris, with 2015 revenues of 2.5 billion has been the company’s sole financial driver.