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Maryland Biotechnology Center Supports $270,000 in MIPS Projects

Maryland Biotechnology Center Supports $270,000 in MIPS Projects

The Maryland Biotechnology Center, the State of Marylands portal to programs and resources intended to grow and strengthen the state's bioscience community, has enabled biotechnology product development projects to be funded through the Maryland Industrial Partnerships program through $270,000 in support.

The Center recently signed off on initial funding for three projects. Each was in the second year of a two-year (phase 2) project. Three additional first-year projects were also made possible by freeing up MIPS funds to support them.

As Marylands resource center for growing and strengthening the state's bioscience community, one of the Maryland Biotechnology Centers charters outlined by Governor Martin OMalley in his 2009 BioMaryland 2020 strategic plan is to provide funding to assist companies with late-stage commercialization objectives, says Judy Britz, the Centers executive director. MIPS has a proven process for evaluating viable research projects and a strong history of successfully helping biotechnology companies develop commercial products, so by supporting MIPS, we are fulfilling part of our charter and are boosting key contributors to the growth of the states bioscience cluster.

MIPS teams Maryland companies with faculty from the University System of Maryland to help the companies develop high technology, biotechnology, or technology-related agricultural products. Companies provide matching funds to help pay for the projects. All funding goes to participating faculty.

The three second-year projects directly supported by the Center include:

  • Rockville-based Aparna Biosciences Corporation (www.aparnabio.com) and A. James Mixson, associate professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore: developing therapeutics to treat a variety of fungal infections.

  • Baltimore-based Encore Path Inc. (www.encorepath.com) and Appa Anjanappa, professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County: developing a new rehabilitative TREADTRAC Device to enable stroke patients to regain walking skills.

  • Rockville-based VectorLogics Inc. (www.vectorlogics.com) and Vikram Vakharia, professor, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute: developing a treatment for the hepatitis C virus using viral vectors to deliver therapeutic proteins.

MIPS was able to support three additional projects thanks to the Center funding, including:

  • Rockville-based Celek Pharmaceuticals LLC (www.celekpharma.com) and Susan Keay, professor, University of Baltimore: evaluating the efficacy of a novel therapeutic for interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, a chronic and debilitating bladder disorder.

  • Rockville-based Cellphire Inc. (www.cellphire.com ) and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute MDBioproSM (GMP Biomanufacturing Program): establishing a quality system and manufacturing processes for the current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) production of the companys freeze-dried platelet products for both diagnostic and therapeutic indications.

  • College Park-based Zymetis Inc. (www.zymetis.com) and Robert M. Briber, professor, University of Maryland, College Park: developing low-cost solvent systems to reduce the crystallinity of native cellulose, reducing the need for enzymes in biomass digestion for the production of ethanol and other biofuels.

MIPS has helped three of the most successful biotechnology companies in MarylandMedImmune [part of AstraZeneca], Martek Biosciences, and Digene Corporation [now part of Qiagen]develop products, says MIPS director Martha Connolly. These companies have generated thousands of jobs, brought in millions in revenue and contributed tax dollars to the economy. The Maryland Biotechnology Center funding allows us to bolster what could be the leading biotechnology companies of tomorrow.

The Maryland Biotechnology Center contract with MIPS is for one year.

April 27, 2010


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