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cellbank technologies in cleveland gets $25k from innovation fund

CellBank Technologies offers a way for surgery patients to plan for future surgeries. The startup company allows patients undergoing knee and hip replacement surgeries to store their own stem cells for possible future procedures. CellBank recently received $25,000 from the Innovation Fund.
“We offer a way to harvest and store stem cells without requiring a second surgical procedure,” explains Rachel Uram, CellBank founder and president. “There are one million hip or knee replacement surgeries each year, and surgeons go in and throw out a lot of stem cell-rich tissue. In 2005, five percent of replacement patients had a second surgery that required a bone graft.”
Using a patient’s own stem cells in a grafting procedure is “the gold standard in grafting,” says Uram. “Ten years ago they would go into the hip and harvest the tissue and use it. There were more patient complications and it was more painful.”
CellBank offers a better solution. “We collect specific tissues, process and store them so the patient doesn’t need a second procedure in situations like bone graft surgeries,” says Uram.
The family-run business has three founders, and they have brought on four part-time consultants. They are in the process of raising $1.5 million in seed money to complete testing. The Innovation Fund money will help bring CellBank closer to accepting customers.
“When we’re up and running we expect to have 15 to 16 employees,” says Uram. “Everybody loves the idea.”

Source: Rachel Uram
Writer: Karin Connelly

columbus-based obgenex is developing effective treatment for obesity

The statistics for obesity in the United States are staggering.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is common, serious and costly -- more than one-third of adults (35.7 percent) and approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.

Matthew During, Ph.D., founder of Obgenex, is well aware of these sobering statistics.  The professor and full-time researcher at The Ohio State University is working to develop an effective treatment for obesity.

“When investigating environmental manipulation to control cancer, we discovered that so-called enriched environments reduced body fat and made animals resistant to obesity," During explains. "We then discovered the molecular pathways in the brain that made these animals obesity resistant.”

That led to developing the Obgenex treatment. “Our product will be the first biological and neurosurgical therapy for obesity,” he notes. “We essentially reset that part of the brain that regulates appetite and metabolism.”

Obgenex recently received a grant of $100,000 from Ohio Third Frontier to conduct a proof-of-concept study. “The study will take six to 12 months and will demonstrate efficacy and safety, which means effective weight loss with no adverse events,” During says. He is using a specific type of mice in the study. “They have an identical mutation that is found in the subgroup of human subjects who we plan to enroll in our Phase I clinical trial.”

The successful completion of the study is necessary for FDA approval to move forward on clinical trials with humans and will be used to lure investors to fund larger scale trials.  The technology will be licensed from The Ohio State University.

Source:  Matthew During
Writer:  Lynne Meyer

LyoGo simplifies drug delivery system for patients

Peter Greco and his cofounders, Rush Bartlett and Arthur Chlebowski, have just moved their startup company, LyoGo, to Columbus from Indiana.

LyoGo, which was one of the winners of last year’s 10xelerator program at the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, has created a drug delivery system that makes it possible for patients to give themselves their own injectable medications. This technology cuts out trips to a physician’s office and thereby shrinks healthcare costs..

LyoGo's technology accommodates drugs that remain unstable in solution form and must either be refrigerated or lyophilized (freeze-dried) to be stored. The existing process for such drugs leaves room for error in the mixing and injection process. LyoGo streamlines and simplifies the process, leading to greater ease and safety in the self-medication process. The company name LyoGo was derived from a shortened version of the phrase, “Lyophilized products to Go."

Greco says that a major draw of Columbus is the Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest, independent R&D organization. “Battelle will provide services to refine the LyoGo device,” which was made possible through a million-dollar investment from an investor who was present at the 2011 10X accelerator program, at which LyoGo was one of the ten funded teams.

Greco and his team are excited about the possibility of eventually seeing their device on the market. Greco says “LyoGo is gathering test data which the pharmaceutical companies can use to assess the compatibility of our device with their drugs. We expect to be working soon with a pharmaceutical company to pair their drug with our device so that it may improve patients’ lives.”

Source: Peter Greco
Writer: Catherine Podojil

ohio supercomputer center's new system souped up and ready to go

There's a reason why Ohio Supercomputer Center's new $4.1 million,  HP Intel Xeon, processor based system has been dubbed the Oakley Cluster. Like the legendary Ohio-born sharpshooter and social advocate Annie Oakley, it's fast as hell, doesn't miss a shot and is improving the lives of Ohioans.

Just ask Ashok Krishnamurthy, Executive Director of the OSC, a facility that is funded by the Ohio Board of Regents and has been in existence since 1987. "We have more than 2,000 academic users across the state, and they're discovering new materials and developing advanced energy applications," he says. "To be competitive, we must provide the highest performance system, and this represents a new level of capability."

OSC's new supercomputer can achieve 88 teraflops, which is tech speak for 88 trillion calculations per second. Yes, in case you're wondering, that's lightning fast.

OSC's new system will help to achieve its mission of assisting academic and business users. Large companies such as Proctor and Gamble and Rolls Royce use OSC as a "second level system when they have needs beyond what their systems can support," says Krishnamurthy. OSC helps small and midsize companies develop and test prototypes virtually rather than investing in actual models, while academics use the system to complete their cutting-edge research.

"We give them access to software and expertise," says Krishnamurthy. "Once they understand the value of what this can do, it changes how they do business."

As one example, Krishnamurthy cites an Ohio company that is developing an LED projector small enough to fit inside a phone. How do they convince various manufacturers that their device can handle the projector's heat without testing every single one? That's where OSC's computer modeling comes in.

"You can simulate how the heat is dissipated," he says. "It's an easy, low-cost way to show potential customers how your design can be incorporated into their products."

OSC has also helped to develop courses for students at community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, as well as professionals who are seeking continuing education. "OSC is in a fairly unique position," says Krishnamurthy. "It is the most consistently state-funded center of its kind in the country."

Source: Ashok Krishnamurthy
Writer: Lee Chilcote

akron bioinvestments fund seeks to attract biomedical companies

Akron has become known as a hub for biomedical companies in recent years, and now a new fund is seeking to further cultivate growth in that sector. The $1.5M Akron BioInvestments Fund targets high-growth companies in orthopedics, wound healing, cardiovascular science, biomaterials, medical devices and other areas for investments.

“While a small part of the Fund supports product development, the main focus is on supporting companies that are 2-3 years away from generating revenues," explains Dr. Zev Gurion, Executive Director of the Akron BioMedical Corridor. "We want companies we invest in to repay the loan so that the Fund will not become depleted over time. That’s why the business potential of the company is considered, as well as economic development elements."

Companies that receive investments must maintain an Akron headquarters or plan to establish a local presence, with an emphasis placed on the Biomedical Corridor. The Fund gets most of its backing from private organizations such as Medical Mutual, First Energy, Cascade Capital and NEOMED. The City of Akron created the fund through its Akron Development Corporation.

The Fund is composed of two parts. The Rapid Commercialization Loan Fund provides low-interest loans to companies that are close to commercialization. The Product Development Fund supports biomedical startups by financing proof of concept, prototyping, market assessment and business-plan development.

Committees made up of representatives from the University of Akron, county and regional government, private businesses and regional organizations make recommendations to the Fund’s board. Cascade Capital acts as the Fund Manager.

Zurion says that the Fund has made two investments so far, a $25,000 grant and a loan for $200,000. The Fund received six qualified applications in the first partial round of applications which ended December 31.

Source: Dr. Zev Gurion
Writer: Patrick G. Mahoney

cle-based milo biotechnology snags $250k investment from jumpstart

The effort to build a world-class biomedical industry in Northeast Ohio took another step forward last week, when JumpStart Inc. invested $250,000 in Milo Biotechnology, a new company formed to pursue promising treatments for muscle degeneration.

Columbia Station native Al Hawkins will serve as Milo's CEO. The former director of new ventures at Boston University, Hawkins returned to Northeast Ohio last year to serve as CEO in Residence at BioEnterprise, the Cleveland-based biotech incubation initiative, and to find emerging technologies worthy of investment. The adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivered follistatin protein developed and patented by researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus fit the bill. Follistatin can stimulate muscle growth, and early trials with mice and macaques suggest it could help patients suffering from muscular dystrophy and other conditions that weaken muscles, Hawkins says. According to JumpStart, a Phase I/II trial, funded by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, is enrolling patients.
Hawkins will retain his position with BioEnterprise until Milo has raised at least $1.5 million. Longterm, his job will be to keep raising funds for the six to seven years it could take to get follistatin all the way through the FDA-approval process, or to hire a new CEO and find another new technology on which to build a company in Cleveland.
Moving back to Northeast Ohio, he says, “is something I considered for a couple years. There are great opportunities here.”
Source: Al Hawkins
Writer: Frank Lewis
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