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February 24, 2009

Columbia BioSystems Receives Key Grants

New Incubator Company Gets Support For Its Research

February 24, 2009

Deborah Shapiro
Marketing Manager

Columbia BioSystems, a new tenant of bwtech@UMBC’s Incubator, has been awarded two important grants from the State of Maryland. The $149,000 grant from Maryland Industrial Partnerships and the $75,000 Maryland Technology Transfer Fund award from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) are a vote of confidence in the potential of the company’s research.

The company, which moved to bwtech@UMBC in December, was established in January 2008 as a subsidiary of Raptor Detection, Inc. to concentrate on the utilization of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) in various biological applications. Robert Jones moved from Raptor to become Columbia’s chairman and CEO. Through its parent company, Columbia has access to various MIPs technologies that were developed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the University of Maryland and licensed to Raptor. Columbia is developing MIPs to detect viruses, bacteria and parasites, focusing on public health applications. Specifically, MIPs are being developed to detect nosocomial or hospital-acquired pathogens such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Columbia’s research focuses on detecting these two pathogens and hopes to have its first biotech product prototypes, a spray and a wipe to detect MRSA on clinical surfaces, available by the end of the year. The MIPs developed for the spray and wipe can also be used with a nasal swab to detect MRSA in patients in real-time at a fraction of the current cost for such tests. The company hopes to have a prototype available by the end of the year for beta or pilot testing, and eventually for general use, pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Previously, the company was located in Columbia at the offices of its parent company. After looking at office space at incubators in downtown Baltimore and College Park, Jones chose bwtech@UMBC for its support services and opportunities to collaborate with other life science companies. “The Incubator is a good environment for early-stage companies. I’m impressed with the support here. It’s refreshing,” Jones said. He expressed confidence in his company’s potential, noting that laws have been passed in many states requiring hospitals to test patients and facilities for MRSA, creating a large demand for testing tools like those Columbia is developing.

“The products Columbia BioSystems is developing have a wide range of uses,” said David Fink, director of entrepreneurial services at bwtech@UMBC. “We are delighted to welcome the company to bwtech@UMBC and are pleased that the State of Maryland has recognized the potential of their research with these awards.”

Posted by dshapiro at February 24, 2009 1:06 PM