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Stem cell work has Md. aiming to take advantage of biotech growth

(kwanchaidp / Depositphotos.com)

(kwanchaidp / Depositphotos.com)

The success of a Maryland fund dedicated to supporting research and commercialization around stem cells could help the state position itself for a biotech boom.

The Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund has helped the state’s drive to be a biotechnology hub, according to an economic impact study sponsored by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, which administers the fund.

“I am proud of the great promise we hold here in Maryland – any of these grantees advancing to market will not only momentously impact our economy, it will also improve life for individuals and families impacted by disease,” said Dr. David Mosser, chairman of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission, in a statement last week.

Over the fund’s 10-year existence, it has generated more than $57 million in employee compensation and 1,400 jobs. The report estimates that for each dollar invested, $2 in economic value for the state is created.

The fund has been credited with helping Maryland place as the sixth-ranked market in the United States for life sciences, according to professional service firm JLL Research.

If analyst forecasts come true, stem cell successes could ready the state to take advantage of growth in the biotech field. Analysts expect the biotechnology sector to nearly double to $727 billion by 2025, according to a report released by Grandview Research.

“Presence of a plethora of companies focusing on the development of regenerative therapies is anticipated to drive sector growth through to 2025,” the report said. “Technological advancements pertaining to the penetration of artificial intelligence in this industry is expected to fuel progress with potential avenues. The companies are engaged in unleashing machine learning in order to understand individual cancer cases, while recommending clinical trials.”

In 2016 the biotechnology market was sized at $369.62 billion, Grandview said. The report said some of the top players in the market over the next several years could include Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Pfizer, Merck & Co., and Sanofi.

These firms would fuel growth by targeting smaller companies for acquisition.

Maryland, with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, could be poised to capitalize. Already, regenerative medicine has been a successful route for some companies and technologies commercialized by universities.

LifeSprout, a company created out of Johns Hopkins, won a prize at the 2017 Association for University Technology Managers business plan competition. Using nanofibers, LifeSprout makes a nonsurgical, soft tissue replacement alternative for cancer and trauma patients as well as for patients who have soft tissue loss from aging.

Personal Genome Diagnostics, another Johns Hopkins company, employs more than 170 people in Baltimore.

The University of Maryland has also taken steps to prepare for a biotechnology growth. Through the partnership between the university’s Baltimore and College Park campuses, it created the Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices.

The institute is based in the University of Maryland, College Park’s, A. James Clark School of Engineering, with an office at the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore, adjacent to the Baltimore campus that houses the university’s medical school.

Harpoon Medical, a medical device company created using university technology, announced this month it had been acquired by Edwards Lifesciences for $100 million.


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