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News > metrowestdailynews.com - Posted Sep 28, 2016 /By Brian Benson Daily News Staff

Natick company aims to help start-up biotech firms

NATICK - When people receive medication at the hospital, from a pharmacy or over the counter, they are likely benefiting from what was once just a concept.

"Every one of these started with some scientist with an idea," said Dr. Michael Kauffman, CEO of Karyopharm Therapeutics, a Newton-based pharmaceutical company that develops drugs for the treatment of cancer and other diseases.

Now, thanks to a new business in a Natick industrial park off Rte. 9, start-up biotechnology companies that may one day develop a key medical advance can lease lab and office space and access a collaborative atmosphere, mentoring and contract lab services. ABI-LAB celebrated on Wednesday its grand opening of what will ultimately be a 17,000-square-foot facility at 27 Strathmore Road.

ABI-LAB already houses several companies as well as providers that offer services to the companies. The business, which welcomed its first tenant company in February and is working on creating more lab and office space in the building, hopes to eventually house more than a dozen companies and service providers, company officials said.

"This is not just real estate," said Raphael Nir, a managing partner of ABI-LAB. "The idea is really to work together with the scientists to help them with unique services we are offering."

Gary Kaufman, ABI-LAB's other managing partner, said Natick is close to where many company founders live, allowing them to spend more time researching and avoid lengthy commutes to the Boston/Cambridge area. The Natick labs also have cheaper rents, Kaufman said.

Jian Shao of Precidiag, which is analyzing certain bacteria in part to find ways for doctors to diagnose diseases, said ABI-LAB takes care of infrastructure needs, helping Precidiag focus on its research.

"It helps us a lot," he said in an interview.

ABI-LAB's decision to be in Natick drew praise from a number of speakers at the celebration, including the town's legislative delegation and MetroWest Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Paul Joseph.

"This is exactly the type of business that we want to see located in Natick," said state Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick

Angus McQuilken of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center said ABI-LAB is among more than two dozen life science incubators around the state helping young companies to grow and thrive. Incubators bring jobs to their communities, among other benefits, McQuilken said.

Kauffman, who delivered the keynote speech, described how his company developed and underscored the importance of the work these companies perform.

"It's great we have a chance now in Massachusetts to change our lives and all of humanity," he said.

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