Gliatech Inc. a private neurotech company in Cleveland, hasreceived three separate $50,000 grants to further its researchon neurological disorders, the company said Wednesday.

A Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institute ofNeurological Disorders and Stroke, is for research on nerveregeneration, specifically on increasing glial cellproliferation. The glial cells of the central nervous system,called Schwann cells, produce the myelin sheath around centralnervous system neurons that is essential for the propertransmission of electrical impulses up the spinal cord into thebrain.

Schwann cells regulate their own growth by producingautoregulatory molecules that stop their ability to divide.Gliatech President Thomas Oesterling said the company wantsto identify the compounds that inhibit the cells' growth-inhibitors.

A Phase I SBIR grant from the National Cancer Institute is forresearch on compounds that inhibit the formation of glialtumors. Glial cells normally produce proteoglycans, the largeand complex molecules that inhibit cell migration. Thecompany wants to better understand how proteoglycans caninhibit tumor growth and to identify simplified versions fortheir therapeutic potential.

The third grant comes from the Edison Seed Development Fund ,an Ohio fund for fostering industry-university partnerships.Gliatech and the University of Toledo's Center for Drug Designand Development will develop new histamine H3 agonists fortreating neurological disorders. Histamine receptor agonistscause a decrease in histamine levels and in levels of two otherneurotransmitters, serotonin and acetylcholine. The effect is ageneral damping of the central nervous system, so H3 receptoragoninsts could treat insomnia and anxiety.

Oesterling told BioWorld that the company's cash position isgood. In February it raised $12.5 million in a private financinground. "Of that," he said, "we have $11 million on hand, and ourburn rate is $3-3.5 million a year." The company filed its IPOin April, but it is "just sitting there," said Oesterling. Gliatechand its underwriters still intend to make the offering but are"waiting for better market conditions."

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