Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said Tuesday it set up a$5.25 million venture capital fund that will channel a portion ofinvestments into commercial development of biotechnologyinnovations arising from university research.

The fund, named Triad Investors Corp., was created by theuniversity, Johns Hopkins Health System, Constellation HoldingsInc. and Whiting-Turner Corp., all of Baltimore, and 3i VenturesCorp. of Boston.

A bioremediation product is one of the fund's top prospects,said Leigh Abts, Triad's executive vice president and chiefoperating officer. "One-fifth of our projects right now are inbiotechnology," he said.

The bioremediation project centers on the use of thermophilicbacteria to degrade polychlorobiphenyl (PCB) toxic wastes.University researchers are testing several heat-loving bacterialstrains that could be used to break down wastes incontaminated soil. Because the PCB-eating bacteria thrive inhigh temperatures, the soil could be heated to acceleratedegradation of the wastes.

Triad intends to take advantage of Hopkins' stature amonguniversities as a top recipient of federal research funding, Abtssaid. Its primary role will be to out-license universityinventions, but it also plans to assist in the formation of start-up companies around stand-alone products. -- Carol Ezzell

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