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Maryland Biotechnology Center Supports $270,000 in MIPS Projects
Date:4/27/2010

Funding Enables Six Commercial Biotechnology Product Projects

COLLEGE PARK, Md., April 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Maryland Biotechnology Center, the State of Maryland's 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 Maryland's resource center for growing and strengthening the state's bioscience community, one of the Maryland Biotechnology Center's charters outlined by Governor Martin O'Malley in his 2009 BioMaryland 2020 strategic plan is to provide funding to assist companies with late-stage commercialization objectives," says Judy Britz, the Center's 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 state's 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 company's 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 Maryland—MedImmune [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.

About the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program (www.mips.umd.edu)

MIPS, an initiative of the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, or Mtech (www.mtech.umd.edu), brings university innovation to the commercial sector by supporting university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products. Commercial products benefiting from MIPS projects have generated more than $19.5 billion in revenue, added thousands of jobs to the region, and contributed to successes such as Martek Biosciences' nutritional oils, Hughes Communications' HughesNet™, MedImmune'sSynagis®, and Black & Decker's Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit.

About the Maryland Biotechnology Center (www.marylandbiocenter.org)

The Maryland Biotechnology Center was created in 2009 by Governor Martin O'Malley as one of the first initiatives of BioMaryland 2020, the state's Strategic Plan for Life Sciences delivered by the Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board.  The Center is your portal to programs and resources intended to grow and strengthen the state's bioscience community.

The Center, in collaboration with some of the state's finest partner programs, will serve to integrate entrepreneurial strategies to stimulate the transformation of scientific discovery and intellectual assets into capital formation and business development. Our programs are also aimed at encouraging workforce training and development, as well as connecting Maryland's federal and academic life sciences research centers to our vibrant industry. The Center provides investments in talent, infrastructure and future commercialization opportunities, through its grant programs. 


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SOURCE Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute
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