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Around the Regions: Jun 12, 2009


New York Approves NIH Extramural Research Facilities as First Category for 10-Percent State Funding Match

The New York State Economic Recovery and Investment Cabinet said Friday it has approved the first category of funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will be eligible for additional state money equal to 10 percent of the federal award.

Awardees would receive $1 million from New York state, through Gov. David Paterson's new $100 million Innovation Economy Matching Grants program, for every $10 million in ARRA funding they win.

The first category approved is the National Institutes of Health Extramural Research Facilities Improvement Program (RFA-RR-09-008), due June 17. The cabinet concluded that the program — designed to assist in expanding life sciences facilities — "will provide significant funding to expand life sciences facilities in the state thereby enhancing economic development in this strategically important technology sector," according to its announcement.

ARRA is the $787 billion stimulus measure enacted in February by President Obama.

The cabinet and the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation will announce via e-mail, and post on their web sites, all future ARRA funding solicitations eligible for the state matching grants.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley Plans Talks on Possible Biotech 'Partnership' with Sweden

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley was set to discuss potential partnerships in biotechnology, as well as environmental sustainability, with officials and business leaders in Sweden during his trade trip through parts of Europe this past week, O'Malley spokesman Dave Tillman told the Washington (DC) Examiner.

Tillman said O'Malley hoped to achieve in Sweden the same success he had last year during a trade trip to Israel, when talks with representatives of an Israeli pharma company helped persuade the company to stay in Rockville, Md. The Examiner neither identified the company, which it said had 77 employees, nor said if O'Malley's office had refused to disclose its name.

O'Malley is a Democrat completing his first term, and has told potential campaign donors he will seek re-election next year. The executive director of the state Republican Party, Justin Ready, said the governor's business development efforts should be more focused at home: "He can do a lot for Maryland business by reducing the tax burden."

The governor's trip will cost the state about $8,000, according to O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec, covering airfare, meals, lodging and transportation — including his June 10 visit to Sweden, where he was to meet the business and government leaders, as well as visit an "eco-friendly" city demonstrating environmentally sustainable practices.

Midwest BioLink Commercialization and Business Center Wins $2.5M, Property from Madison, Wis., Council

The Madison, Wis., Common Council has adopted a resolution granting $2.5 million in funds, plus property on which it plans to construct the Midwest BioLink Commercialization and Business Center, a research facility designed to assist scientists in commercializing agricultural biotechnologies.

The approval will allow BioLink to pursue another $4.5 million in federal funds. BioLink has also launched a new Web site.

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"The BioAg Gateway could be a great catalyst that will leverage research, commercialization and our already strong agriculture industry to build a stronger economy coming out of the recession," Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who co-sponsored the resolution, said in a statement. "I'm pleased we can push ahead on securing federal dollars to move the project forward."

BioLink will include experimentation space, pilot processing, a controlled environment facility, and plant science commercialization greenhouses. It will also have office space, wet labs, conference areas as well as offer business services and financial assistance to tenants.

The project is set to create 50 jobs, with the opportunity to indirectly add 100 more to the area within the first three years. The BioAg Gateway has a prime location on the city's southeast side, near Interstate 94, Highway 51 and the Beltline.

3 Israeli Medical Device Companies Win Combined $1M from Cleveland Clinic's GCIC; Open Ohio Offices

The Cleveland Clinic-backed Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center has awarded a combined $1 million to three Israeli heart companies that have agreed in return to develop their products in Ohio, MedCity News has reported.

The center agreed to fund Cardiostar, which is developing a non-invasive blood-pressure monitoring device; Sensible Medical Innovations, whose device is designed to detect fluid in the lungs during congestive heart failure episodes; and Vasostar, a maker of a catheter designed to break up artery blockages during episodes of total chronic occlusion.

"What we believe is that within the next year, all three will go to [clinical] trials," Tom Sudow, director of business development at the innovation center, told the News, a Cleveland online news site.

Cardiostar and Vasostar have also formed joint ventures with the Frantz Group in Mentor, Ohio, to further develop their products. Sudow said the two companies initially will hire three to five workers. Each could employ 20 to 30 employees if their products are successful, he added.

Sudow said Sensible Medical likely will locate in Columbus because it plans to work primarily with Ohio State University researcher William Abraham, and that the company should begin operations in the state by the end of the summer.

Sensible Medical already has received a terms sheet from an undisclosed "large venture fund," Sudow added.

Funding from the innovation center typically accounts for about one-third of the first investment rounds for startups. Private equity deals could follow for each of these companies.

Texas Emerging Technology Fund Makes $250K Awards to Med Device, Biotech Companies

The Texas Emerging Technology Fund has awarded grants of $250,000 each to a pair of life sciences companies. An additional $750,000 has been reserved for each company if it achieves specific milestones, the fund said.

SEMMT, a Houston-based medical device company whose surgical kit would allow doctors to implant left ventricular assist devices on beating hearts without the need for cardiopulmonary bypass. Since April 2007, SEMMT has been managed by AlphaDev, a Houston-based early-stage life science management and investment company sponsored by Aquinas Companies.

Pulmotect, a Houston-based biotech company focused on stimulating the lungs' natural immune response to fight infectious disease through targeted stimulation. Pulmotect's technology is licensed from and benefiting from collaborations with Texas A&M University's Institute for Biomedical Technology in Houston and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, with additional support from Baylor College of Medicine. Since August 2008, SEMMT has been managed by AlphaDev.

The Scan

Study Links Evolution of Longevity, Social Organization in Mammals

With the help of comparative phylogenetics and transcriptomics, researchers in Nature Communications see ties between lifespan and social organization in mammals.

Tumor Microenvironment Immune Score Provides Immunotherapy Response, Prognostic Insights

Using multiple in situ analyses and RNA sequence data, researchers in eBioMedicine have developed a score associated with immunotherapy response or survival.

CRISPR-Based Method for Finding Cancer-Associated Exosomal MicroRNAs in Blood

A team from China presents in ACS Sensors a liposome-mediated membrane fusion strategy for detecting miRNAs carried in exosomes in the blood with a CRISPR-mediated reporter system.

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.