Md. stem cell research panel approves 29 projects for $9.4M in grants

Maryland stem cell grants will go to 29 research projects this year.

The Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission on Wednesday approved 29 research projects to receive $9.4 million in funding, including its second-ever award to a company readying to test its stem cell therapies on humans.

The commission approved a pre-clinical research award of up to $500,000 over three years to MaxCyte, a Gaithersburg biotechnology company developing treatment for chronic granulomatous disease, a genetic disorder that hinders the immune system.

It approved eight investigator-initiated research awards that provide up to $600,000 over three years to scientists who have preliminary data that show a treatment may be promising. Awardees are researching treatments for Parkinson's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, heart disease and traumatic brain injury. Five of them are based at Johns Hopkins University, two are based at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and one is based at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Eleven scientists were granted up to $200,000 over two years for exploratory research into treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, mental disorders, spinal cord injury and diabetes.

Nine researchers were awarded post-doctoral fellowship funding, up to $110,000 over two years.

The commission chose the awardees from a pool of 175 applicants, the most since 2012. The stem cell program received record interest last fall, with 240 researchers having declared plans to apply for the fiscal year 2015 grants.

"We were very impressed with the quality of the applications this year for these important research grants," Rabbi Avram Reisner, the commission's chairman, said in a statement. "Each of these awardees represents one of the keys to the future of regenerative medicine."

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