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Life Sciences Discovery Fund makes company grants in health-related technologies

SEATTLE, Washington, July 23, 2012 The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today announced nearly $570,000 in awards in its inaugural corporate grant program to support commercialization of new health and health-care products by four early-stage Washington-based companies.

Three of the new "PreCede" grants focus on improving the management of serious medical conditions. Glenn Kawasaki of Carepeutics, Inc., will test a technology for predicting patient responses to anticancer drugs to inform treatment decisions. Tom Sanko of EchoGuide Medical, Inc. (formerly Harpoon Navigation, Inc.), will develop and test an ultrasound-guided system for placing catheters in the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid. Robert Wilcox of Viket Medical Corporation will test a new approach for removing blood clots from the brains of individuals who have suffered a type of stroke called intracranial hemorrhage.

The fourth grant, to Thomas Schulte of Nexgenia, Inc., will optimize and scale up novel reagents to improve the speed and sensitivity of clinical assays for diagnosing various diseases.

The PreCede grant competition is designed to help position early-stage Washington life sciences companies for near-term equity investment. PreCede grants support research and development activities focused on validating the commercial merit of promising health-related technologies.

"LSDF has provided grant funding since 2007 to accelerate the movement of promising technologies into the commercial marketplace," stated LSDF Executive Director John DesRosier. "Today's grants represent LSDF's first dedicated mechanism to provide funding directly to companies. We have been encouraged and heartened by the strong support of and interest in this grant program from Washington's life sciences sector."

Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association President Chris Rivera noted that PreCede grants meet a vital need within the state's life sciences community, particularly in the current funding climate. "These grants support activities such as 'proof of concept' studies and prototype construction and testing that are critical for attracting angel and venture capital investment to complete development and successfully launch new products."

The PreCede awards were chosen from the eight proposals reviewed in the competition. National experts recruited by the American Association for the Advancement of Science evaluated the scientific and technical merit of the projects, and panels of commercialization and financial experts assessed each project's commercial potential and possible health and economic benefits. The LSDF Board of Trustees made the final award selections.

"A robust for-profit life sciences sector in Washington is critical for commercialization and market penetration of new products, which are in turn expected to lead to both health and economic benefits for our state," explained Lura Powell, chair of the LSDF Board of Trustees. "The board is pleased to use PreCede grant funding to both move new health-related products forward and foster the development of the state's for-profit life sciences community."

LSDF will continue to offer grant funding for both for-profit and non-profit Washington organizations, with granting programs to be announced in August 2012. Additional information will be posted on the LSDF website at as it is available.

Funding for PreCede grant awards comes from Washington's allocation of payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement of 1998, revenues arising from multi-state litigation with tobacco product manufacturers.

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a Washington state agency established in May 2005, makes grant investments in innovative life sciences research to benefit Washington and its citizens.

Contact: Cathyryne Manner
Life Sciences Discovery Fund

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