A Medical Device Daily

ZenBio (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) a privately held biotechnology company reported that it has been awarded a Phase I SBIR grant to provide a unique human primary cell system for breast cancer research. The $200,000 award from the National Institutes of Health will fund the isolation and culturing of primary human basal and luminal mammary ductal cells for the development of a donor-matched cell system.

The majority of breast cancers originate in the ductal cells comprised of two main cell types: the inner luminal cells surrounded by basal myoepithelium. These cell types are the precursors to various forms of breast cancer making it important to study them independently and in co-culture systems. Current methods for culturing human mammary epithelial cells select for basal cells so there are no commercial sources of quality-controlled, matched basal and luminal cells from individual donors. This SBIR grant award will allow ZenBio to provide a much needed and well characterized cell system to the cancer research community.

"This grant from the National Cancer Institute gives us the opportunity to provide a tool not currently available to cancer researchers", stated Peter Pieraccini, President and CEO of ZenBio. "Investigating the interaction between the two cell types may lead to novel treatments and therapies that will benefit a great number of breast cancer patients."

In other grants news, The Cardinal Health Foundation (Dublin, Ohio) reported that for the second year, it will award more than $1 million in funding to help U.S. hospitals, health systems and community health clinics improve patient safety and healthcare quality.

Cardinal Health launched its Patient Safety Grant Program in August 2007 as the first and largest fund of its kind in the private sector, and received applications from more than 10% of U.S. hospitals. In the program's inaugural year, the company awarded grants totaling $1 million to new and innovative programs at 34 hospitals, health systems and clinics, nationwide.

Again this year, the Cardinal Health Foundation plans to award grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to programs that improve the quality and safety of patient care, with priority consideration being given to programs that reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and improve medication safety.

To be eligible for funding, facilities must be designated as 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service and submit a letter of intent by Oct. 31, 2008, at www.CardinalHealth.com/community. Full proposals, for those selected to apply, will be due Feb. 20, 2009 and grants will be announced and awarded in Spring 2009.