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UM Ventures Announces Collaboration Between UM School Of Medicine's Dr. Frank Robb and Fina Biosolutions
Date:7/11/2013

BALTIMORE, July 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  University of Maryland (UM) Ventures announced today a collaboration between Frank Robb, Ph.D., at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, and Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Rockville, Maryland-based Fina Biosolutions LLC to devise new ways to manufacture a key component used in many vaccines. The international nonprofit organization, PATH, which spurs new innovation with the goal of delivering high-impact, low-cost global health solutions such as lifesaving vaccines, will fund the partnership's development efforts as part of its pneumococcal vaccine project.

"A new and improved vaccine production method is the goal of this public-private partnership between my lab and Fina Biosolutions," said Dr. Robb. "It is designed to yield broader availability of an important vaccine component, which is highly effective, but prohibitively expensive for some applications, particularly in the developing world."

Dr. Robb, whose lab is in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, has studied a unique group of microbes found in extreme environments ("extremophiles"). These astonishing organisms, many of them from marine hydrothermal vents (so-called "Black Smokers"), have chaperone systems that enable them to survive and even thrive in extreme heat and harsh chemical conditions. When the extremophile chaperone systems are transferred to ordinary bacteria, they become more stable to heat or solvent exposure. Dr. Robb's team has developed several technologies, patented by the University of Maryland, which are based on industrial applications of his research. These include systems for improving the stability and function of manufactured proteins for a variety of purposes, such as vaccines and specialty enzymes.

"We are pleased to be working with organizations that share FinaBio's mission to help make conjugate vaccines affordable for the emerging markets. The partnership with PATH and the University of Maryland will allow us to achieve this goal and to help to make vaccines that will save countless lives," said Andrew Lees, Ph.D., Scientific Director, Fina Biosolutions.

"Following on the heels of our Wellcome Trust-Bharat Biotech collaboration formed last year," said Phil Robilotto, Assistant Vice President, Office of Technology Transfer, UMB, "UMB's Office of Technology Transfer, in conjunction with UM Ventures, is very happy to be facilitating more of these important public-private partnerships on behalf of the campus and its investigators, such as Dr. Robb." UM Ventures is designed to help facilitate the commercialization of technologies developed by UM researchers at the University's Baltimore and College Park campuses.

About Fina Biosolutions, LLC

Fina Biosolutions LLC is a private, research and development-stage biotechnology company that discovers, develops, and collaborates to commercialize novel vaccine conjugates for prevention of life-threatening diseases. Fina has patented novel techniques to conjugate, purify, and manufacture conjugates using its proprietary chemistry to create complex conjugate vaccines. For more information, see http://www.finaBiosolutions.com/.

About PATH

PATH is an international nonprofit organization that transforms global health through innovation. We take an entrepreneurial approach to developing and delivering high-impact, low-cost solutions from lifesaving vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and devices to collaborative programs with communities. Through our work in more than 70 countries, PATH and our partners empower people to achieve their full potential. For more information, please visit http://www.path.org/.

About UM Ventures

UM Ventures is an ambitious joint research commercialization effort of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). UM Ventures is a central part of an initiative called University of Maryland: MPowering the State. The program has combined the entrepreneurial efforts of the two powerhouse universities that together do more than $1 billion a year in externally sponsored research. UM Ventures is bringing innovative technologies to the market and expanding collaborations with industry. Visit http://umventures.org/ to learn more.


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