Maryland fund awards $8.5 million for stem cell research

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The Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission has awarded $8.5 million to 29 projects that will explore how human stem cells can regenerate heart tissue, treat muscular dystrophy and sickle cell disease, and aid diabetes management, among other medical conditions.

The awards, made through the state-funded Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, are intended to accelerate work by researchers and startup companies using human stem cells to advance medical treatments.


"We want to accelerate the transformation from science and technology to commercial products and clinical treatments," said Dan Gincel, the fund's executive director.

The initiative has awarded $139 million to 400 projects since it was established in 2006. The fund and commission are managed by TEDCO, the Maryland Technology Development Corp.


The grants support projects at various stages, from discovery and gathering data, through clinical trials and steps toward commercialization.

As more projects move closer to commercialization, TEDCO expects to accelerate the pace of the fund's awards, said Gincel, who is also TEDCO's vice president of University Partnerships.

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The $8.5 million awarded this month was part of the state's fiscal 2017 budget. The budget for fiscal year 2018, which starts July 1, includes $8.2 million for stem cell research, Gincel said.

This year's recipients come from six companies and six research institutions, including Johns Hopkins University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; and University of Maryland, College Park.

Other research institute recipients are based at the Hussman Institute for Autism in Catonsville, the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, both in Baltimore.

Longeveron, TissueGene, MaxCyte, Propagenix, Seraxis and 3Dnamics are the companies that received grants.

All the companies are based in Montgomery County except for Longeveron, which is based in Florida. Longeveron's clinical trial for treating a heart condition in infants is being conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Gincel said.