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Bioheart (Sunrise, Florida), focused on developing cell-based therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, said that it will receive funds from a grant awarded by the Biomedical Research and Commercialization Program of the state of Ohio. Bioheart will collaborate with the Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland) under the grant in order to accelerate the development of cell therapies for congestive heart failure and heart attack patients.

The grant funds will support research that involves repairing damaged heart tissue by transplanting muscle stem cells that express therapeutic proteins capable of homing other stem cells within a patient's own body to the cell transplanted area. The recruited stem cells further assist in the tissue repair process and help to increase blood vessel formation.

Bioheart licensed a series of patents from the Cleve-land Clinic covering this stem cell homing technology. If successful, the company said the collaboration also would create new jobs in Ohio to support this pre-clinical and clinical work.

“Our lab has studied, identified and developed strategies for delivering several stem cell homing factors to the heart that we believe will offer a significant clinical benefit,” said Marc Penn, MD, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic, who pioneered the use of stem cell homing factors to treat heart failure. “These grant funds will help us to further develop these cell-based strategies for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction and chronic heart failure.”

Penn, who will serve as the principal investigator for this research, has conducted large animal studies on the first potential product for which Bioheart plans to file an investigational new drug application with the FDA in order to begin human clinical trials.

In other grants/contracts news, NovaScreen Biosciences (Hanover, Maryland), a Caliper Life Sciences company providing drug discovery and development services and products, reported that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (Madison, New Jersey), a division of Wyeth, has selected NovaScreen to conduct a high-throughput screening (HTS) campaign. As a result, NovaScreen will screen 500,000 compounds against an inflammatory target.

The HTS campaign combines NovaScreen's kinase profiling expertise with Caliper's LabChip 3000 microfluidic screening platform, which uses electrophoretic separation of assay components to provide analytical quality data that is highly reproducible.

Performing the screen using LabChip 3000 technology assures data quality that helps eliminate false positives in the primary screen, providing more relevant and accurate information, the company said. Accessing the technology through collaboration with NovaScreen provides companies with screening data that shapes drug discovery efforts by identifying novel compounds that may get overlooked with other techniques.

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