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July 16, 1998

ATHENA ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES, INC. RECEIVES $100,000 NIH GRANT to Study & Develop Innovative Lead Poisoning Test

Baltimore, MD - The environmental health sciences division of the National Institutes of Health has awarded a $100,000 research grant to Athena Environmental Sciences , a small and rapidly growing firm specializing in biotechnological solutions to environmental problems, to develop and test an innovative, non-invasive test for lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning remains one of the most common and devastating environmental diseases affecting young children in the U.S. and elsewhere. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 3 million children in the U.S. under the age of six have blood lead levels high enough to adversely affect their intelligence, behavior and development. In addition, occupational lead exposure remains a significant source of poisoning in adults.

Current techniques for monitoring blood lead levels are cumbersome, expensive, and invasive. Athena Environmental Sciences, a tenant of the UMBC Technology Center since 1994, has identified a biomarker protein found in the urine of animals with elevated blood lead levels.

According to Chairman and CEO Sheldon Broedel, Ph.D. (UMBC 1990), the Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences will fund a research project determining if the same protein, identified in collaboration with the University of Maryland's Program in Toxicology, can identify lead poisoning in humans.

If so, this program could lead to a Phase II award and the production of an inexpensive and rapid test that could be performed without drawing blood. "Such a development would revolutionize the ability to diagnose, treat, and monitor individuals at risk for lead poisoning," said Dr. Bruce Fowler, Director of the University of Maryland's Program in Toxicology.

Athena Environmental Sciences is one of over 20 cutting-edge, high-technology firms located in the UMBC Technology Center, which nurtures new and growing high tech businesses through a unique combination of specialized facilities, access to UMBC's strong science and technology programs, and active connections with business, industry and government agencies.

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Posted by dwinds1 at July 16, 1998 12:00 AM