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NYC. Biotech Capital?

Silicon Valley is to tech, as the East River is to biotech. That could be an analogy of the future if the pols running New York City have their way. The city took a big first step in that direction this Wednesday when it opened the doors of a $20 million facility devoted to searching for a vaccine to..

Silicon Valley is to tech, as the East River is to biotech. That could be an analogy of the future if the pols running New York City have their way. The city took a big first step in that direction this Wednesday when it opened the doors of a $20 million facility devoted to searching for a vaccine to fight HIV/AIDS. The lab is located in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, which served as a military supply base through World War II. The city is now trying to rebrand the hulking building as BioBAT; the vaccine lab being the future hub's first resident.


Says the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog, "The center, a research hub for the International Aids Vaccine Initiative, is something of a big deal for New York City, which has lots of fancy researchers and academic hospitals but has long been a biotech also-ran."The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the city is looking for tax revenues from other industries, now that the financial sector's prosperous run has ended.

Seth Berkeley, the president of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative told the magazine The Scientist, that he expects to "start seeing output from this lab very very quickly." But New York might be advised to speed up the leasing of lab space in BioBAT and to accelerate development on its proposed East River Science Park to reach succes in the biotech world.

Up to this point, work to develop an AIDS vaccine has not returned promising results. Reports on the sudden termination of a clinical trials on a promising vaccine developed by Merck in 2007 say that the treatment may have enhanced the chances of a person becoming infected. In fact, the virus has turned out to be so tricky to prevent or neutralize that planned trials on a government-funded vaccine were scrapped this summer.

(Photo from Flickr user joshbousel)