Curing What "Can’t" Be Cured

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To-do list for 23 Maryland companies and university faculty for the next year: cure cancer and HIV. Prevent a common bacterial disease. Find terror suspects, concealed weapons, and explosives with better technologies.

What may sound more like a wish list could soon be reality if research projects approved for funding by the University of Maryland’s Maryland Industrial Partnerships program ( are successful.

“The best research stretches our capabilities to meet the needs of society,” said Dr. Martha Connolly, director of MIPS. “Making the world a healthier place, a safer place, doing things faster and better--it’s what drives us.”

The projects team Maryland companies with University System of Maryland faculty to develop commercial products. Worth $4.5 million, the projects include $1.6 million from MIPS and $2.9 million from Maryland companies. All of the funding goes towards the commercially directed university research.

Six different universities are participating. Six projects involve Baltimore-based companies. Two are on the Eastern Shore. Eight small companies are involved, as are 15 startups.

Projects approved include:

  • Rockville-based 3CLogic Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park: developing enterprise-level products to monitor and manage the peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic used by Internet telephony and Skype on computer networks.

  • Frederick-based ACAGI Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park: building a portable video camera system with real-time face recognition, as well as live marking and indexing for immediate archival.

  • Baltimore-based Acceptys Inc. and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: identifying tumor-specific antigens for three of Acceptys’ preclinical human antibodies, shown in animal models of human cancers to be effective at treating pancreatic, stomach, lung, and colon cancer.

  • Baltimore-based Alba Therapeutics Inc. and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: examining approaches for enhancing oral, nasal, and pulmonary drug delivery using Alba's tight-junction technology.

  • Gaithersburg-based Ariavax, Inc. and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: developing a novel vaccine against urinary tract infection, one of the most common bacterial infections in the U.S., affecting nearly one in three women by the age of 24.

  • Hebron-based AviHome LLC and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore: engineering a ventilated floor system, retrofitted to existing poultry houses, that will: control moisture levels in the bedding; reduce ammonia emissions; inhibit bacteria growth, fungus and insects; and prevent nutrient seepage into ground water. Over 88,000 poultry houses operate in the U.S., with 5,430 grower houses in the Delmarva Peninsula alone.

  • Sparks-based axonX LLC and the University of Maryland, College Park: testing a new, video-based smoke, flame, and motion detection system to provide early warning for fires and fewer false alarms.

  • Elkton-based BioAssessments LLC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: developing a system to monitor a person’s salt sensitivity, which can indicate an increased risk of cardiac problems and stroke.

  • Clinton-based Cardinal Scientific Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park: designing a Web-based interface for manufacturing parts using a water-jet cutting machine.

  • Hyattsville-based Celadon Laboratories Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park: developing a radically innovative software platform for the design of oligonucleotides, which are often used as probes for detecting DNA or RNA.

  • Easton-based Green Eyes LLC and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science: creating a device to protect moored water quality sensors from the impairment and degradation caused by the growth and activity of living organisms (biofouling).

  • Annapolis-based InvisiTrack and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County: building a system for the prediction and early detection of landslides. InvisiTrack’s wireless sensing technology, which is also applicable to other markets, works through concrete walls, foliage, and dense fog at over 2,000 feet, giving it distinct advantages over GPS and RFID.

  • Baltimore-based In Vitro Technologies  and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: optimizing methods for isolating and preserving fish liver cells (hepatocytes), which can be used commercially to test the environmental toxicity of industrial compounds such as fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides.

  • Baltimore-based Lentigen Corporation and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: creating new models to treat lung-based diseases such as lung cancer, pneumonia, asthma, fibrosis and emphysema using lentiviral vectors, powerful systems for delivering genes into mammalian cells.

  • Beltsville-based Neocera Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park: prototyping techniques for fabricating super-hard, hydrogen-free, diamond-like carbon coatings. The high- wear-resistant, low-friction, corrosion-resistant coatings could be used for engine and machine parts, medical and optical devices, bearings and electronics.

  • Baltimore-based Nora LLC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: developing manufacturing and purification protocols for Nora’s patent-pending therapy for recurrent miscarriages and repeated in vitro fertilization failures.

  • Greenbelt-based Pervasive Technology Engineering, LLC and the University of Maryland, College Park: testing the company's newly launched fiber optic sensor, which measures minute changes in acoustic pressure. The sensors can gauge the structural health of long bridges, tall and historic buildings, oil and gas pipes, and other structures where sensor data has to travel long distances without losing signal integrity and precision.

  • Glen Burnie-based Pharad LLC and the University of Maryland, College Park: optimizing Pharad’sportable system for detecting concealed weapons on individuals from a distance.  The system can be used in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments, including airport concourses and passenger train terminals, public buildings, stadiums, and retail centers.

  • Potomac-based Prime Circuits Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park:  developing fast, three-dimensional x-ray baggage screening systems to detect explosives.

  • Baltimore-based Profectus BioSciences Inc. and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute: support for a clinical study investigating the potential of immunomodulating agents in early HIV therapy.

  • Gaithersburg-based Promogen Inc. and the University of Maryland, Baltimore: optimizing Promogen's technology to produce cancer-targeting gene promoters to treat neuroblastoma and prostate cancer. Cancer-targeting gene promoters can switch on genes in cancer cells to kill them, while leaving healthy cells alone.

  • Bethesda-based Quantum Molecular Pharmaceuticals Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park: developing a new radiation sensor that could significantly reduce the size and cost of positron emission tomography (PET) scanners. PET is a nuclear medicine medical imaging technique that produces a three-dimensional image of functional processes in the body.

  • Brookeville-based VivaLac Inc. and the University of Maryland, College Park: evaluating the low caloric value and glycemic index role of VivaLac’s natural, alternative sweetener, Whey Low™.

This is the 38th round of MIPS funding. The program has supported research projects with 369 different Maryland companies since 1987.

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. recommended—and the Maryland General Assembly approved—a $1 million increase in MIPS’s operating funds for FY 2007. That increase has enabled MIPS to almost double the projects it supports. During FY 2006, MIPS supported 32 research projects; the program projects funding 50 new projects in FY 2007.

MIPS-supported commercial products have generated more than $9.8 billion in revenue, added jobs to the region, and contributed to successes such as Martek Biosciences’ infant formula additives, Hughes Network Systems’ HughesNet™, MedImmune Inc.’s Synagis®, and Black & Decker’s Bullet® Speed Tip Masonry Drill Bit.

About MIPS (

The Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, an initiative of the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, brings university innovation to the commercial sector by supporting university-based research projects to help Maryland companies develop technology-based products.

Published August 14, 2006