Posted: June 30, 2008

Case Western Reserve University with Copernicus Therapeutics and Polgenix Receive $3.9 Million for Biotechnology Research

(Nanowerk News) Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in collaboration with Copernicus Therapeutics, Inc. and Polgenix, Inc., was selected to receive $3.9 million in funding from the Ohio Biomedical Research Commercialization Program (BRCP) as awarded by Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, Chair of the Ohio Third Frontier Commission.
The BRCP awards grants that support Ohio-based biomedical and biotechnology research leading to commercialization and long-term improvements to the health of Ohioans. The grant funds pre-clinical effectiveness and safety studies in support of regulatory filings with the FDA to initiate clinical trial testing.
'We are proud to be one of six award winners statewide, and excited to be enabled to develop these critical technologies so that they can be useful for patients,' said Dean Pamela Davis, M.D., Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
James P. Basilion, Ph.D, joint faculty member in the Case School of Medicine, Department of Radiology, and the Case School of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, is the lead principal investigator (PI) on the project and Mark J. Cooper, Senior Vice President of Science and Medical Affairs, Copernicus Therapeutics Inc. in Cleveland, is the Co-PI.
'This grant program is designed to move projects in cystic fibrosis, retinitis pigmentosa, and breast cancer from the bench to the bedside within three years,' said Cooper. 'The collaborative interactions between Case, Copernicus and Polgenix provide an exciting opportunity to apply novel technologies to improve medical care for these important clinical indications.'
The term of the grant is over three years and the application is for three complementary activities:
1. Development of nanoparticles for treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). CF and RP are genetic diseases (caused by gene mutations) that result in lung failure and blindness, respectively. Copernicus introduces normal genes formulated as nanoparticles to improve function. Both programs are to further research to support initial Phase I/IIa clinical trials.
2. Commercialization of a two-photon ophthalmoscope for early detection of retinal disease. Polgenix is developing an instrument that can take an image of the back of the eye. This image will be especially useful to assess improved outcomes in the Copernicus Phase I/IIa RP clinical trial.
'Polgenix is ecstatic about this opportunity to not only validate its retinal imaging technology, but to do so in partnership with the development of a retinal therapy that, if successful, will bring or preserve sight to patients who currently hold very few options for treatment,' said Joe Jankowski, Chief Executive Officer of Polgenix. 'We are proud to be a part of the CWRU Nanomedicine Program whose partners are aiming to establish best-of-class products for both the imaging and treatment of retinal diseases.'
3. Development of contrast agents for the detection of clean margins during breast cancer surgery. Surgical specimens from breast cancer patients are imaged in a timely manner, so as to ensure the full removal of tumor cells.
About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and 15th largest among the nation's medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.
The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching and in 2002, became the third medical school in history to receive a pre-eminent review from the national body responsible for accrediting the nation's academic medical institutions. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century.
Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 600 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News and World Report Guide to Graduate Education. The School of Medicine's primary clinical affiliate is University Hospitals and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.
About Copernicus Therapeutics, Inc.
Copernicus is a privately held biotechnology company, is dedicated to delivering the promise of nucleic acid therapeutics. The same technology that is being tested for its ability to deliver the CF gene to the lung of CF patients can be applied to treating serious lung infections caused by influenza A, bird flu, and other respiratory viruses, as well as for treating a variety of disorders of the eye and brain. The Copernicus multi-component delivery platform can be used to develop nucleic acid therapies for numerous human diseases. Additional information about Copernicus is available at
About Polgenix, Inc.
Polgenix is a Cleveland-based bioscience firm establishing drug discovery and medical device programs that are each based on proprietary understanding of the human retinal function. The Company's drug discovery program employs the use of modified retinal cells to express and solve GPCR crystal structures. Its device program is developing novel instrumentation to provide safe, real-time, in vivo imaging of the human eye's functional components. The devices will help ophthalmologists interpret, diagnose and track disease progression for age-related macular degeneration and other ocular diseases Polgenix is privately held and benefits from strong partnerships with pharmaceutical, medical device, and academic institutions.
Source: Copernicus Therapeutics, Inc.
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