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Posted: March 6, 2009

Minnesota Partnership announces funds for nanotechnology research

(Nanowerk News) The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics is awarding nearly $5.4 million in state–funded research support to six research teams. This new round of scientific exploration will provide initial support for research on cancer, neurological diseases, heart disease, gastrointestinal conditions and nanotechnology that could impact a range of diseases.
"Once again, the scientific community at our two Minnesota institutions has developed creative and innovative plans of study, and we’re excited at the potential impact of this research on behalf of improved health and an improved economy," says Mark Paller, M.D., Partnership program director at the University of Minnesota.
"These six projects reflect some of the best science and scientific minds in Minnesota. All of these projects have a strong likelihood of succeeding and advancing to the bioscience marketplace," explains Eric Wieben, Ph.D., Partnership program director at Mayo Clinic.
Applications for the projects were requested last fall from University and Mayo Clinic researchers. Each research proposal has a principal investigator from each institution and must be a project that could not be completed by either organization on its own. Funding is for two years, with the goal of developing intellectual property or attracting additional research support from federal government or private sources.
The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics is a collaboration among the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and the State of Minnesota. To learn more about the Partnership, go to www.minnesotapartnership.info.
The awards will fund research for these projects:
New Generation Oncolytic Adenovirus for Refractory Cancers — $957,093
Masato Yamamoto, M.D., Ph.D., University of Minnesota; and John Morris III, M.D., Mayo Clinic
The goal of this project is to develop viral constructs that will have clinical impact on such cancers as prostate, breast, pancreatic, esophageal and lung and bring them to the threshold of clinical trials.
Towards Gene Therapy of Friedreich Ataxia and Other Mitochondrial Diseases — $904,102
Michael Koob, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; and Grazia Isaya, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
This team has developed technology to engineer the mitochondrial genome in mammals and wants to use it to develop a gene therapy for Friedreich ataxia, a genetic neurodegenerative disease that causes muscle paralysis in the lower extremities.
Small Molecule Screens for Selective Growth Inhibitors in a Yeast Model of Familial Paraganglioma — $723,690
Gunda Georg, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; and Jim Maher, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
The goal is to develop novel drugs that would stop small neuroendocrine tumors from becoming malignant cancers.
Cell Therapy of Cardiac Arrhythmias — $828,040
Robert Tranquillo, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; and Douglas Packer, M.D., Mayo Clinic
This team aims to discover cell–based therapies for arrhythmias and develop them for treating cardiac patients.
High–Resolution Nano–LAMP Microarrays to Measure the Binding Strength of Therapeutic Human Natural Auto–Antibodies on Target Cell–Surface Antigens — $1,078,000
Sang–Hyun Oh, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; and Moses Rodriguez, M.D., Mayo Clinic
The goal is to develop a nano–device to measure binding strength of antibodies on the surface of cells. The technique could impact multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries.
Hydrogen Sulfide: From Toxic Molecule to Therapeutic Agent — $895,000
Michael Levitt, M.D., University of Minnesota; and Joseph Szurszewski, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
The goal is to develop sulfide–based drugs to treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Source: Minnesota Partnership