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Biotech startup seeking up to $4M in financing

Baltimore biotech firm Ocular Proteomics LLC is seeking its first round of financing within the next six months, for $3 million to $4 million in venture capital. While a closing date for the round has not been determined, the decision follows a $1.2 million federal grant the biotechnology startup recently won to begin clinical trials on macular degeneration diagnosis and treatment. The startup last month moved from Towson to UMB BioPark for larger laboratory facilities.

The venture capital financing will be used for clinical trials, marketing and new hires, according to director of business development Joshua Hines.

The $1.2 million grant comes from the National Eye Institute and National Institutes of Health, and runs for  two years, from May 2013 to May 2015. Next year, the company will apply to renew the grant and, if successful, would receive $1.5 million per year for up to five years.

The $1.2 million grant enables Ocular to start clinical trials for ophthalmic diagnosis based on the company’s discovery of biochemical markers in the vitreous of the human eye. The trials will be held at three locations -- Baltimore, Chicago and Cleveland – and will involve 200 patients with macular degeneration.

Dr. Bert M. Glaser, Ocular’s chief scientific Institutes of Health officer, founded the company in 2009. Dr. Glaser heads the National Retina Institute, of which Ocular is a spinoff.
 
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among adults. An estimated 15 million Americans have macular degeneration, of whom 2.5 million have the advanced form that threatens their eyesight. If not treated, the disease inevitably leads to blindness.
 
There is no cure for macular degeneration but there is an injectible medication that stops the progression of the disease in about one-third of the patients on whom it is used. However, a patient must wait six months to a year before knowing if the medication is effective. Based on the biomarkers, the company’s focus is to determine if the patient will respond to the medication before then.
 
The privately-financed Ocular has two full-time employees. It is looking to hire two laboratory technicians within the year, and is also seeking up to three college students who are interested in unpaid internships doing eye research.
 
Source: Joshua Hines, Ocular Proteomics LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Canton startup pitches emergency management software to federal agencies

Adashi Systems LLC, a Canton emergency management software developer, is expanding its market to include the  federal government and is coming out with the latest version of its software platform for first responders within the next few months.
 
Brian Pollack, business development manager, says the company’s traditional customer has been local government. This year, the company is changing its sale focus to federal agencies, starting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
 
Pollack says Adashi has 1,500 customers at city and county levels in nearly every state in the country. In Maryland, they include Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Queen Anne’s County.
 
The majority of customers are fire departments or hazardous material teams within fire departments. It also has customers among police departments and US Marine bases that have their own fire departments.
 
Adashi offers four software products. Dispatch, the basic offering, provides navigation, routing and planning data. First Response offers navigation, planning data, hazard modeling and incident guidance. Command Post, the most comprehensive, combines the Dispatch and First Response products and provides a response management system linking commanders.
 
The fourth product, Navigation and Routing Option, has a GPS tracking system. It is included in Dispatch and optional with First Response and Command Post.
 
Pollack says the technology was developed at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Edgewood and a company called OptiMetrics had a license to develop the software.
 
The privately funded Adashi is located in the incubator, Emerging Technology Center at Canton. Pollack does not know if it moving to the ETC’s new Highlandtown location in October.
 
Adashi is a finalist in the state’s 2013 incubator company of the year award, the winners to be announced next month. The company has a staff of 12, and has immediate openings for four positions for engineers and developers.
 
Source: Brian Pollock, Adashi Systems LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Biomedical startup OptiCul seeking $5M in funding for new product

OptiCul Diagnostics Ltd. this month submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of its first product, a device that tests for bacterial presence and promises to shorten hospital stays. Upon regulatory approval, which is expected this year, the Rockville biomedical startup with ties to Baltimore plans to market the device next year.
 
The startup is also seeking $5 million in funding from angel and venture capital investors this year, says CEO and Co-founder Israel Gannot. His wife Gallya Gannot is president and co-founder. Last year, the company raised $400,000 from angel investors.

The startup has eight full- and part-time employees. It plans to hire an additional eight employees, in engineering, marketing and sales, this year in preparation for selling the device in 2014.

Called an Optidet, the device OptiCul is developing can determine if a patient is carrying bacteria and if so which kind within three minutes. 

“The device helps with diagnosis and allows you to treat patients quicker, resulting in shorter hospital stays,” says Gannot, professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and a professor at Tel Aviv University.
 
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development awarded grants totaling $300,000 for research, which OptiCul conducted with the University of Maryland microbiology and chemistry departments.  
 
OptiCul Diagnostics was founded in Israel in 2008 with seed money from the Israeli government. In 2010, it opened its American headquarters and main laboratory to the William E. Hanna Jr. Innovation Center, an incubator in Montgomery County, where it is still located.
 
Gannot says the device, about the size of a small box, is designed to be placed in a hospital laboratory and used multiple times. The samples, about the size of business cards, are disposable. The device is priced at $10,000 and the samples at $3 each.
 
The initial marketing focus will be the I-95 corridor, Boston to Washington, D.C.,  where, by Gannot’s count, there are 2,500 hospitals with laboratory facilities.
 

Source: Israel Gannot, OptiCul Diagnostics Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 
 
 
 
 

Life sciences company developing device to prevent blindness caused by diabetes

Early-stage medical device company Vasoptic Medical Inc. is conducting tests on a device to detect and prevent a progressively worsening eye condition that leads to blindness.

The tests, being held at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, are required for federal Food and Drug Administration approval. When done in 2014, the Columbia company will seek FDA clearance to market and sell the device.

CEO and general counsel M. Jason Brooke estimates it will cost $7.5 million to bring the device to market. The federal National Institute of Health last year awarded the team a $225,000 development grant. The company next month will apply for a $1 million to $1.5 million NIH Small Business Innovation grant, which is intended to help speed commercialization of promising technology.
 
Johns Hopkins has a $180,000 multi-year grant from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, part of which goes to Vasoptic for commercialization. Vasoptic has received a $75,000 grant from Maryland Technology Development Corp., or TEDCO, for commercialization. It is also one of 33 finalists in the state’s InvestMaryland Challenge, the winners and cash prizes to be announced next month.
 
Brooke says the company is considering an angel financing round this year for $500,000.

“We are starting to get recognition of the value of technology among investors,” he says.
 
Brooke and Chief Technology Officer Abhishek Rege are Vasoptic’s current staff. Depending on grants, the company will hire two to four research engineers this year. The company is located in Howard County incubator, the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.
 
The so-far unnamed device is intended for the early detection of diabetic retinopathy, a condition caused by both Type I and Type II diabetes. One in nearly three diabetics, or six-to-eight million people, has some form of diabetic retinopathy. Another eye implant invented by Hopkins scientists and manufactured by a California company recently received FDA approval. 
 
In the US, 25 million people have diabetes, seven million people are undiagnosed diabetics and another 80 million people are pre-diabetic. The condition causes reduced blood flow to the tissue of the retina that leads to severe visual impairment and eventually blindness.
 
Brooke says the recommended treatment is regular eye exams to detect the condition and better management of one’s diabetes to slow its progression.
 
Vasoptic is not the only technology to screen for the condition. But other technologies require an ophthalmologist to analyze the images, says Brooke. Vasoptic’s technology is designed to be used by the primary care physician.
 
Vasoptic’s hand-held device captures anatomical images and physiological information like blood vessel flow that its accompanying software analyzes. The device not only detects the existence of the condition but predicts the risk of the diabetic developing it as well.
 
“It’s not hard for an ophthalmologist to detect the condition in its early stage but half of diabetics don’t receive the recommended eye exams” because of the expense and inconvenience, Brooke says . “Our focus is the primary care facility and keeping the device low cost,” likely under $10,000 each.
 
Rege developed the technology while working at the Johns Hopkins department of biomedical engineering. Hopkins filed patent papers and entered into a licensing agreement with Vasoptic to commercialize the device.
 

Source: M. Jason Brooke, Vasoptic Medical, Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash
 
 

Baltimore nonprofit preps for Obamacare with new primary health care clinic

Baltimore nonprofit Institutes for Behavior Resources will open a new clinic this summer to provide primary health care services to substance abusers and their families, with $1.4 million in funding from state and foundation grants. 

It is part of the state’s efforts to have services in place by the time the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is fully implemented in 2014. 

The nonprofit is using the grants to renovate the institute’s 1920s era, six-story building at 2104 Maryland Ave. in Charles Village and to open the clinic on the currently vacant fourth floor. The institute's COO Reid Blank says he expects the clinic renovation to be finished by next month with an official opening in July. Blank says it is looking to hire eight to 10 employees for the health care clinic, including nurses, counselors, receptionist and part-time physicians to add to its staff of 40. 

The nonprofit will provide clinic patients and their families with screenings, tests and medical treatment as drug addicts may not have primary care physicians or get regular medical treatment.  The clinic will serve as a model for other states in preventive health care, a key tenet in Obamacare. In addition, the clinic will be available to patients at other substance abuse programs in Baltimore, such as Man Alive Inc.

"The grants enable us to expand services to patients and their families. Our patients have other health problems that are not always addressed, and that delays progress in treating their addiction," Blank says. 
 
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene contributed $898,000 to the project. Other funders are the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, $270,000; The Abell Foundation, $200,000; and France Merrick Foundation, $50,000. The institute is paying the remainder of the total $1.5 million project.
 
Besides its REACH program for substance abusers, the 51-year-old institute works with government agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and Department of Defense as well as commercial airlines, railroads, transit and trucking companies on the issue of fatigue.

Source: Reid Blank, Institutes for Behavior Resources
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

Infertility website launching new apps for hopeful moms

My Hopeful Journey this year is expanding its market from individual users to businesses and associations. The Baltimore County lifestyle website is offering fee-based corporate memberships to clinics, pharmacies, mind-body programs and online communities as a way to reach more women.

Last year, founder Lisa Drouillard launched a free iPhone application, called the Infertility Survival Kit, to accompany the website. She also launched an app on adoption.

Harford County resident Lisa Drouillard founded the company, located at the TowsonGlobal Business Incubation at Towson University.

For corporate members, Drouillard creates a customized website and mobile application, along with a six-month free membership in My Hopeful Journey. Corporate members can co-brand the site with their logos, message and website links. A basic package costs $500.

"It is a value-added service for their members," she says.

My Hopeful Journey grew out of Drouillard's personal experience of five years of infertility treatments. As a full-time working woman, she found it difficult to keep track of daily tests and medication dosages during treatment.

My Hopeful Journey has an organizer to record appointments, medications, tests, procedures and natural tracking like body temperature. It includes content like resources, blog, task list and journal. Drouillard is continuing to market directly to individuals, who can access the website for free. Users can also sign up for a premium option with customized reports and downloadable documents, for $6 per month.

My Hopeful Journey has over 1,000 users. The Survival Kit app, downloadable from the Apple app store, has over 500 downloads since its launch less than two months ago.

Funding for My Hopeful Journey is private, supplemented by prize money the company has won in different business and pitch competitions.

“Infertility is a very complex, emotional situation. I wanted to share my personal journey, what I went through and what inspired me,” says Drouillard, who has a three-year-old daughter. “I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me to say how much they needed this website.”
 
Source: Lisa Drouillard, My Hopeful Journey
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

Johns Hopkins awarded $3.5M for robot research project

Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering is collaborating with universities around the country on a project to create robots that work more efficiently with people. The National Science Foundation has funded the four-year, $3.5-million human-robot interaction research project, part of the National Robotics Initiative, a federal effort. 
 
“In the world of robotics, there are two natural extremes: the completely autonomous robot and the fully technically-operated robot,” says Gregory Hager, chair of the computer science department at the engineering school.
 
“The idea is to create a more holistic robot,” he says of the project. “As more and more robots interact with people in different ways, that’s the middle stage we’re in now.”
 
Hager is the co-principal investigator of a team that includes researchers from Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and the University of Washington.
 
The project will focus on the manufacturing and medical industries, the two areas where humans and robots are most involved. Researchers' challenge is to improve human-robot teamwork and communication.
 
Hager says the researchers will examine the manufacturing process at two companies that make specialized products, like wire baskets, and require quick turnover. “Robots may be a way to enhance productivity at a reasonable cost,” he says, as well as reduce workers’ repetitive motion injuries.
 
For the medical industry, the team will work with Silicon Valley company Intuitive Surgical Inc., maker of the daVinci surgical robot, to improve speed, accuracy and precision. With over 2,000 daVinci robots in use, the company is the dominant player in the robotic surgery field.
 
“We hope to come up with methods that apply to a wide set of problems,” says Hager.
 
Source: Gregory Hager, Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering
Writer: Barbara Pash

Baltimore nonprofit may launch new health care accelerator

BioHealth Innovation Inc., a nonprofit that seeks to commercialize technology in the biotech and healthcare fields, could open an accelerator for health information technology startups this year.

Co-located in Rockville and in Baltimore, BioHealth wants the accelerator to serve entrepreneurs and small businesses in central Maryland. Upon board approval, the organization plans to identify a location by the first quarter of this year and have it operational by the fourth quarter.
 
“We are evaluating it. We believe there is a need for one. We know there is interest,” BioHealth President and CEO Richard Bendis says. 
 
Also in the works for 2013 is an angel fund, a for-profit investment fund for high net-worth individuals to invest in early-stage biohealth companies, says Bendis, who is anticipating a first close for the fund by the end of 2013.

"We are bridging the gap between Montgomery County and Baltimore, where most of the biohealth assets reside in Maryland," says Bendis. "We are interested in things that have the potential to be commecially relevant -- not only that it works but you can build a product or business around it."

Bendis defines biohealth broadly. It encompasses traditional therapeutics and pharmaceuticals as well as diagnostics, medical diagnostics, health care services, electronic medical records, mobile health and biohealth cybersecurity.

"We see a convergence between technology and devices and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. All those companies depend on data statistics and analytics," he says.
 
BioHealth Innovation was founded last year as a private-public partnership with the goal of accelerating the commercialization of technology and science affiliated with the biohealth industry in central Maryland.
 
"We work with scientists and entrepreneurs beyond the technology transfer phase. We get involved once they get past the transfer office in the university," says Bendis.

"We have the expertise that can help them do that [commercialize research]. We have investors on our board. We have a person who started and ran a biotech company. We connect people to the resources they need," he says.

To that end, BioHealth Innovation is initiating a program to provide free proposal and review assistance to small businesses that apply for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. The SBIR requires federal agencies to set aside 2-1/2 percent of their research budgets, a total of $2.5 billion annually, for grants to small businesses. The goal is to speed commercialization of early-stage projects.
 
Bendis contends that while Maryland’s reputation in science is exceptional and the state is recognized as a leader in life sciences, it has not been as successful as other states in competing for the SBIR grants. Phase 1 grants run about $100,000 to $150,000; phase 2, $1 million and up.
 
At the National Institutes of Health, according to Bendis, Maryland small businesses submitted the third highest number of applications for its SBIR grants. But the state ranked 34th in winning phase 1 grants and 36th in winning phase 2 grants.
 
BioHealth Innovation’s assistance is available to anyone, private or academic, who is eligible to apply for an SBIR grant, with a particular emphasis on the National Institutes of Health grants.

BioHealth also offers what it calls "client agreements," and has already signed up a few bioheath start-ups in Baltimore. Bendis says the goal of the client agreements is "to help them move their business plans forward, to help them get clients and identify investors and local technology talent. They have a business but it is pre-revenue."
 
Source: Richard Bendis, BioHealth Innovation Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

UMBC Life Sciences Startup Launching First Product

Life sciences company Plasmonix will begin selling its first product, QuantArray, early this year. The Baltimore County startup plans to commercialize two other products later in 2013, the QuantaWell 100 and the Quanta NP, and will seek $2 million to $3 million for another round of financing, CEO William Gjust says.

Plasmonix develops support tools to detect cells in medical research and clinical diagnostics by enhancing luminescent and fluorescent signals using metal nanoparticles. QuantArray, its latest product, has various applications in performing assays, a test that analyzes components, and enhances luminescent signals hundred-fold over conventional methods. The technology can be be applied not only in the life sciences, but also apparel, paint and cosmetics. 
 
QuantaWell 100 also enhances signals hundred-fold but in a different format than QuantArray. Quanta NP is a supplementary solution that is used to improve the efficiency and sensitivity of commercially available assays.
 
“It’s a rarefied field. There is no direct competition that we are aware of,” says Gust of Plasmonix’ products. 
 
Gust says potential customers are any company or institution that performs assays, from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to academic facilities. Market research showed that the average price for standard assays is $25 per substrate microscope slide. Gust says he has not determined a price for QuantArray but it is likely to be slightly higher than the standard assay.
 
In 2011, Plasmonix received $1.5 million from venture capitalists in its initial round of financing. It has also received $200,000 from the Maryland Biotechnology Center and $100,000 from the Maryland Industrial Partnership, to be used by its academic collaborators.
 
Plasmonix grew out academic research, primarily at the University of Maryland Center for Fluorescence Spectroscopy. The company was formed in 2009. In 2011, it moved into the incubator, bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, where it occupies a 1,500-square-foot office. The company employs four.
 
“We are translating academic research into robust, reproducible commercial techniques,” says Gust.
 
Source: William Gust, Plasmonix
Writer: Barbara Pash

Noxilizer Expands Medical Device Production

Noxilizer Inc. expects to more than double its manufacturing capacity of its proprietary sterlization units for medical devices, thanks to its recent move to a larger production facility.
 
Maura Kahn, vice president business development and marketing, says Noxilizer’s relocation from the incubator at University of Maryland, Baltimore County to the University of Maryland, BioPark in downtown Baltimore allows the company to manufacture five to six units, rather than one to two, per year. Kahn says customers include medical device manufacturers, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, such as the Catheter Research Center in Indianapolis.
 
“We have roughly the same amount of office space but double the laboratory space. Moving to a larger lab facility allows us to expand our microbiology operations and to build our sterilization units,” Kahn says.
 
Noxilizer’s manufactures its RTS 360 Sterilization Unit on premise, with subcontractors in Maryland completing the assembly. The first units went on sale in 2011. The units employ a gas-based, room temperature process that allows them to be used for new medical devices that can’t be sterilized by the traditional method.
 
Noxilizer’s sterilization units cost $250,000 each. The company offers a three-year service contract for $40,000.  To run the unit, customers purchase sterilants from Noxilizer at a typical cost of $2000 to $2500 per month.
 
Noxilizer, a privately-held company, was founded in 2004. It originally had offices in both Bethesda and Baltimore. In 2010, the two offices were combined into one and moved into the incubator bwtech@UMBC.
 
The company employs 19 full-time and two part-time workers. Last year, it added six new employees and is currently looking to hire a director of quality. The company also employs four-to-six paid interns per year, usually from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Stevenson University, who are often hired as full-time employees after graduation.
 
Noxilizer recently raised $3.5 million in a financing round via the Maryland Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit program. It also received $500,000 from The Abell Foundation. Last year, the company was named Maryland Incubator Company of the Year in the life sciences category.
 
Source: Maura Kahn, Noxilizer Inc.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Johns Hopkins Spinoff Readies Medical Device For Sale

Clear Guide Medical LLC is readying its first product, a medical device used in minimally invasive ultrasound surgeries that will be for sale in early 2014. Federal and state grants received this year aided the commercialization process for the Johns Hopkins spinoff, which hopes to receive another state grant early next year. 
 
The Baltimore life sciences company received a total of $550,000 from the federal National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, in 2011 and 2012, and $125,000 from the Maryland Technology Development Corp. in 2010 and 2012. It is waiting to hear about another grant from the latter, for $100,000.
 
“We are developing a medical device that will lower health care costs by allowing [procedures] to be done quickly and at less cost,” COO Dorothee Heisenberg says. The device clips onto an ultrasound probe and provides guidance to surgeons before and during minimally invasive procedures like needle biopsies, needle nerve blocks and vein catherizations. The device provides such information as the angle to hold the needle and how far to push to reach the nerve or vein.

Heisenberg says the advantage of the device is that it makes it easier for surgeons to learn how to use ultrasound, for which they need special training. She also sees a benefit for rural areas or areas where there aren’t a lot of medical facilities. Local physicians and clinics may be able to do a biopsy, and then consult with medical experts for a diagnosis.
 
Heisenberg expects Clear Guidance’s device to cost in the $12,000 to $15,000 price range. 

Clear Guide Medical was founded in 2010, a spinoff from the Johns Hopkins Department of Computer Science and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s radiology department. In 2012, it was the first company to move into the Johns Hopkins accelerator, located on the Homewood campus, Heisenberg says.
 
The company has five employees. It is in the midst of applying for a worldwide patent that covers the US, nations in Europe, Japan, Canada and Israel – countries that are most likely to develop competing devices. Johns Hopkins is paying the patent filing and application expenses, about $80,000, for which Clear Guidance will pay back in time.
 
“We want to sell our product without complications,” Heisenberg says.
 
Source: Dorothee Heisenberg, Clear Guide Medical LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

Baltimore Life Sciences Startup To Develop Animal Health Test

InstantLabs Medical Diagnostics Corp. is entering the animal health/veterinary medicine field next year, with plans to develop a variety of tests for the detection and diagnosis of dangerous pathogens in animals.
 
CEO Steven Guterman says the tests will be based on its general purpose molecular diagnostic test kits, which can be refined for different markets. Located at the University of Maryland BioPark, InstantLabs commercialized its first test kit this year for the food safety market and currently is developing a test kit for the human health/hospital market.
 
“Our goal is to change the way people do food testing," Guterman says. "We spent a lot of time building a device with the power of molecular testing that is small, affordable and easy to use.”
 
Food companies typically send samples to an outside laboratory for testing, a process that can take three to five days for results. InstantLab’s test, for both extraction and identification, can be done on-site, with test results within 12 to 24 hours.
 
Customers include poultry processors, fish farmers and nutritional companies that use the kits to detect different and dangerous bacteria like salmonella, listeria and e-coli.
 
The food safety kits were first sold commercially in spring of 2012. So far, more than a dozen have been sold, half in the US and half overseas. By early 2013, the company will also have a test for the bacteria Vibrio.
 
In human health/hospitals, InstantLab is developing a test kit for MSRA, an antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus infection. It received a $100,000 award from the Maryland Industrial Partnerships to develop a test kit for the detection of MSRA.
 
The company is working with Jennifer Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, on the test. It should be ready by the end of 2013, after which the company will begin human trials and seek US Food and Drug Administration approval.
 
InstantLabs was formed in 2008. In 2010, it moved to the University of Maryland BioPark in order to grow internally and have its own laboratory. In 2011, it moved to a larger space in the BioPark, doubling the size of its office.
 
The company has five employees in Maryland. Guterman says it is looking to hire a senior molecular biologist in 2013 for its entry into the veterinary field.
 
Source: Steven Guterman, InstantLabs Medical Diagnostics Corp.
Writer: Barbara Pash

Meridian Helps Baltimore Biotech Firm Meet FDA Standards

Frederick biotech firm Meridian Biogroup has completed a four-year project for Baltimore contract research and manufacturing firm Paragon Bioservices so its laboratory equipment and programs meet US Food and Drug Administration regulations.

“Our projects are not like construction projects with a definite end. Some are long-term,” says Thomas Blake, Meridian’s Principal and Co-Founder with Alison Demarest.
 
Meridian offers validation and compliance services for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. These include testing facilities’ utility systems, developing higher-quality programs and providing extra staff for specific tasks.
 
Meridian’s 37 clients range from large companies like Human Genome Sciences and Osiris Therapeutic to small- and mid-range companies like Paragon Bioservices and startups that want to launch a product and need to comply with FDA regulations. Paragon moved to the University of Maryland, Baltimore BioPark in 2008.
 
Blake says that for MedImmune, another client, Meridian is engaged in more than 30 new and ongoing projects at the company’s sites in Frederick and Gaithersburg in Maryland, and in Pennsylvania and Liverpool, England. Projects for MedImmune include quality assurance, regulatory affairs and FDA inspection.
 
Meridian, a privately held company, has been located at the Frederick Innovation Technology Center since its founding in 2007. It has grown from the two co-founders to a staff of 26.
 
The company was the recipient of the 2012 Incubator of the Year Award in the technology services company category. The Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO) and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development sponsor the annual award.
 
Last spring, the Board of County Commissioners of Frederick County officially recognized the company for its contributions to a variety of charitable and community causes, among them Believe in Tomorrow, Frederick Head Start, Smile Train, Hope Alive and the Frederick Community Action Agency.
 
“We feel it’s important to give back,” says Blake. “Frederick county and city have supported our efforts since we started. We’re pleased to be recognized.”
 
Source: Thomas Blake, Meridian Biogroup
Writer: Barbara Pash

Annapolis Medical Device Maker Partners With Boston Hospital On Patient Monitoring

Annapolis medical device company Zephyr Technology Corp. is collaborating with Massachusetts General Hospital on its OmniSense system for monitoring patients' vital signs. 

Paul Costello,  Zephyr's vice president of mHealth Sales, says the OmniSense system is used to monitor patients in the hospital and after they are discharged. The system allows staff and physicians at the Boston hospital to track and measure their health while they are recuperating at home.
 
Costello says the OmniSense device is about the size of a silver dollar and weighs an ounce. It is attached to the skin with two “smart” electrodes. The system works within the confines of a hospital without interfering in the facility’s electronic and internet equipment.
 
Zephyr makes sensors that measure vital signs such as electrocardiogram, heart rate, breathing rate and skin temperature. The real-time physiological status monitoring is transmitted via high-level wireless such as mobile phones, PDAs and the web.
 
The company has a variety of product lines, for use by professional sports teams, fire and rescue, law enforcement and Special Forces groups. It also sells consumer products. For example, its heart rate monitor went on sale this month, at a cost of $79.
 
Zephyr was founded in 2003 as an engineering services firm. In 2005, it received a contract from the US Department of Defense to develop a physiological monitoring system that US Navy Seals could use in combat. From there, the company branched out to monitoring the medical aspects of First Responders. The company is growing and recently hired four people for a total of 36 employees. 
 
Zephy is privately-owned and venture capital-backed. Backers include 3M New Ventures, Motorola and iGlobe Partners.
 
Source: Paul Costello, Zephyr Technology Corp.
Writer:  Barbara Pash

Hopkins Dementia Study Reveals Effects of Home Health Care

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University and a Jewish charity revealed that people with dementia could live in their homes with help 10 months longer than those without help.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore partnered on the $1.8-million study, called MIND at Home. The study was designed by Hopkins and funded by Associated. The study was designed to provide a model that could be used by community service agencies throughout the country.
 
“This is the first study coming out of the geriatric psychiatry division that looked at dementia service delivery,” says Quincy Samus, a Johns Hopkins assistant professor in the division and project director.

Dementia care coordinators provided help for a range of needs, including general medical care, interactions of their medications, behavioral problems, social involvement like adult day care, home safety modifications, financial issues and safe driving.
 
The average age of the study participants, chosen at random from Baltimore neighborhoods, was 84 and many of them still drove their cars.
 
The help the participants received not only kept them in their homes longer but improved their quality of life as well, says Samus, who notes that the study was designed to provide a model that could be used by community service agencies throughout the country.
 
LeRoy Hoffberger, past chairman of Associated, is credited for being the catalyst for the study and leading its fundraising efforts. The 18-month study was staffed by Jewish Community Services, an Associated agency, with Hopkins developing the protocols for the dementia care coordinators. Hopkins experts from its Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center also participated.
 
According to Barbara Levy Gradet, Jewish Community Services’ executive director, the coordinators specialized in dementia care and the impact of dementia on family care-givers. 
 
Gradet says the Associated agency is now planning how to bring the study to scale, in other words, how to translate what worked for a small setting to the Jewish community as a whole. Still to be determined is a funding source to broaden the  scope, whether a federal agency or insurance companies.
 
In 2012, an estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. Over 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, at an estimated cost of $200 billion.
  
Although results from the Mind At Home study have not yet been published in professional journals, preliminary findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last month.
 
Calling the dementia service delivery system a “crucial concept,” Samus says the “ultimate hope is that other states adopt this approach.”
 
Sources: Quincy Samus, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry; Barbara Levy Gradet, Jewish Community Services
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnews@bmoremedia.com
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