A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Genomas (Hartford, Connecticut) a company developing DNA-guided medicine and personalized healthcare, reported receiving a Fast-Track Phase I-II Small Business Innovation Research Grant of $1.2 million.

The grant, titled "DNA Diagnostic System for Statin Safety and Efficacy," was awarded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS; Bethesda, Maryland). Statins are the most prescribed drugs in the world.

Drugs in this class include atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Zocor and generic formulations). Statin-induced neuro-myopathy (SINM) is the primary safety risk of these drugs. SINM presents as a constellation of nerve and muscle side effects, such as muscle aches (myalgia), cramps, weakness and muscle injury (myositis, monitored in serum by elevation of certain enzymes).

To date, Genomas says it has secured $3.1 million of NIH SBIR funding for PhyzioType product development. These programs have been anchored by the partnership with Hartford Hospital for translating DNA-guided medicine into clinical practice. Genomas says it is a developer of DNA-guided medicine and personalized healthcare.

In other grant news: Researchers from University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (both Cleveland) have been awarded a $2.4 million grant over five years from the National Eye Institute (NEI) to study corneal infection (keratitis) brought on by disease-causing fungi that can be lurking on contact lenses, in the air, in the dirt, or even on common household surfaces.

They will set their sights on Fusarium solani, the ubiquitous fungus that achieved international notoriety in 2005 and 2006 after an outbreak of corneal infections related to a contact lens care solution in the U.S.

The researchers will study the body's immune response to Fusarium and other pathogenic fungi, and will identify factors that fuel the infections.

Leading the study are Eric Pearlman, PhD, research director and research professor in the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and Mahmoud Ghannoum, PhD, director of the Center for Medical Mycology in the department of dermatology.

"Fusarium solani was already well-known as an important cause of eye infections in warm, humid areas of the U.S., and in southern and southeastern Asia, where this fungus can be picked up from the digging of dirt in agricultural work," Pearlman said."A couple of years ago, we saw it cause a lot of trouble in contact lens wearers because cleaning solutions weren't able to scrub it away. Once it got into people's eyes, it caused many problems and led to a recall of a cleaning solution."

Earlier this year, this research team published a study that described how fungal cells formed biofilms, highly resistant structures held together with a glue-like matrix material.