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Business Roundup

February 16, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 7

Dow Chemical is closing a 225 million-lb-per-year low-density-polyethylene plant in Freeport, Texas, by the end of next month. The plant employs 40 workers. The company blames polyethylene market conditions and the poor cost position of the plant, which has been running since 1959.

FRX Polymers of Chelmsford, Mass., has signed an agreement to build a 500-metric-ton-per-year pilot plant to make polyphosphonate polymers at the engineering firm Uhde Inventa-Fischer's facility in Domat/Ems, Switzerland. Polyphosphonate is an inherently flame-retardant polymer that FRX intends to develop for applications such as computer and cell phone housings.

Lignol Energy is abandoning its joint venture with Suncor Energy to build an $80 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Grand Junction, Colo., citing "general market malaise." The Vancouver, British Columbia-based firm has a technology to take the lignin from wood chips for subsequent conversion into ethanol.

RPM International has acquired Karochemie, a Swiss maker of sealants for construction markets in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. With annual sales of $13.4 million, Karochemie will help RPM expand its presence in Europe.

Sasol-Huntsman, a maleic anhydride joint venture between South Africa's Sasol and Huntsman Corp., has obtained financing to expand capacity at its Moers, Germany, plant from 60,000 to 105,000 metric tons per year. The partnership expects to complete the project by 2011.

AstraZeneca has licensed triple reuptake inhibitors for treating depression. The compounds were discovered by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and the Mayo Clinic. Whereas current antidepressants address imbalances in one or two of the brain's neurotransmitters, Mayo says the licensed compounds address all three major transmitters.

Novartis will pay $75 million to Portola Pharmaceuticals for exclusive worldwide rights to elinogrel, an experimental blood clot preventer. Under the agreement, Novartis will have responsibility for Phase III development, manufacturing, and commercialization of the drug.

DeCode Chemistry & Biostructures and the Belgian drug company UCB will collaborate on the structure-based discovery of small molecules that treat inflammation by modulating cytokine targets. The program will use DeCode's Fragments of Life lead identification and optimization technology.

Bayer Schering Pharma, the German biotech firm Affimed Therapeutics, and the German Cancer Research Center are collaborating as part of a broad effort launched by the German government. Germany's Molecular Imaging Technology Initiative will focus on new diagnostic tracer molecules for use in imaging and as potential new therapeutics.



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