Fellowships

Incubator Seed Fund

Innovation Fund

SBIR Grants

Edison Fund Loan Invests in Signum

Stem Cell Support

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox and Michele Alperin were prepared for

the July 3, 2007 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Funding For Einstein’s Alley

Several times a year U.S. 1 gets a chance to step back and take a look

at clusters of struggling high-tech start-ups that show promise. For

instance, in our January Progress Edition, we list companies that

sprouted or expanded in the previous year. The New Jersey Technology’s

annual venture fair presents another opportunity for evaluations. The

most exciting news, however, can be gleaned from the minutes of the

New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, which awards grants

to promising companies twice a year.

In June the NJCST promised to disburse more than $5.3 million in

awards, including monies for post doc fellowships, R&D funds,

incubator seed grants, SBIR grants, and more. A good portion of those

funds ended up in the central New Jersey region that has been dubbed

"Einstein’s Alley."

Among the recipients are companies with new ways to discover drugs

more quickly, new ways to use windmills and fuel cells for producing

and saving energy,and new ways to treat aching backs.

Top Of Page
Fellowships

In an attempt to plug the "brain drain," the New Jersey Commission on

Science and Technology is trying to help PhDs from New Jersey’s

universities find jobs near their alma maters. The commission

allocated nearly $1 million for 14 New Jersey Technology Fellowships,

including 10 first year fellowships, at $75,000, and four second year

fellowships at $85,000. To put this in perspective, the average base

salary for New Jersey biotech workers last year was $86,800, with

additional benefits of $11,800, according to Deloitte & Touche. The

fellowships not only retain talent, they commercialize products.

Chromocell Corporation, 675 Route 1 South, Technology Center of New

Jersey, North Brunswick 08902; 732-565-1113; fax, 732-565-1183.

Christian Kopfli, CEO. Home page: www.chromocell.com.

Nobel prize-winner Guenter Blobel and Kambiz Shekdar came up with the

cell-sorting technology that helped to form Chromocell Corporation in

2002. Now established at the Technology Center of New Jersey,

Chromocell has grown to 30 full-time employees. It has just received

$85,000 from the New Jersey Technology Fellowship Program to pay the

salary for Kelly Corcoran, a second-year post doctoral fellow from

UMDNJ.

Blobel won the 1999 Nobel in physiology/medicine for his discovery

that proteins have intrinsic signals governing their transport and

localization in the cell. The following year, in his Rockefeller

University lab, he and his post doc associate, Shekdar, discovered the

Chromovert technology. Now patented, this technology creates stable

cell lines automatically and exceptionally quickly, thereby saving

time during the drug discovery and development process. Blobel is the

scientific advisor, and Shekdar (Rutgers, Class of 1995) is on

Chromocell’s management team.

Unlike many start-up companies, Chromocell operates in the black and

needs no outside funding. "All our growth has been financed by

customer payments," says CEO Christian Kopfli. Clients include those

in the pharmaceutical and food industries, plus some academic

institutions.

It can take weeks or months for Chromocell to process an order, says

Kopfli. "We engage in complex research cooperation, with the help of

pharmaceutical and food companies, to create intricate cell lines and

assays." Compensation might include fixed fees, royalties, and

milestone arrangements.

Kopfli joined the company as a result of meeting Shekdar at a party. A

native of Zurich, Switzerland, where his parents were in the book

publishing business, Kopfli received both an undergraduate degree and

a law degree from the University of Zurich in 1992, and he also has a

PhD in law from the same university. He also has a master’s degree in

law from Columbia Law School in New York City. He was a mergers &

acquisitions lawyer at Davis, Polk, and Wardwell in New York City from

1998 to 2003.

The name of the company comes from the Greek word for color, and the

cell sorter uses laser light to isolate particular cells.

Princeton Satellite Systems, 33 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542;

609-279-9606; fax, 609-279-9607. Michael Paluszek, president. Home

page: www.psatellite.com.

Princeton Satellite Systems is another company that has enough cash

flow to survive, but succeeded in extending its NJCST post-doc

fellowship for a second year. Founded in 1992, PSS makes money doing

software design and consulting for the aerospace and embedded controls

industry. Pradeep Bhatta, who will earn $85,000 as a second-year

fellow, works on what nobody will pay for – pioneering studies on wind

energy, to develop a low cost, high efficiency, wind-mill style

generator for mass deployment.

Wind-mill generators are controversial on the Delaware shoreline this

summer, but CEO Michael Paluszek claims that the PSS version is

esthetically pleasing. "People could plunk it in their back yard at a

price point attractive for home owners," says Paluszek. "It looks like

a flag pole and is only slightly taller than a house."

What aerospace has to do with wind-generated energy can be explained

by the fact that most of the investigators here specialize in

controls. Paluszek designed one of the first applications of active

vibration control on a satellite. The son of a mechanical engineer at

a refinery-building company, Paluszek went to Massachusetts Institute

of Technology (Class of 1976), from which he also has a graduate

degree. He made his major discovery at GE Astro Space in East Windsor,

In 1992 he founded his own firm and moved it downtown in 1996 (U.S. 1,

July 1, 2004). It has eight employees.

Bhatta was chosen for this fellowship because he had been working on

controls for autonomous underwater vehicles. "Some of the algorithms

he developed are applicable – to maximize the power output, to point

the device in the best direction, to adjust the blades in the best

direction," says Paluszek. "We have the controls technology that other

companies simply don’t have."

Paluszek keeps his eight-person company downtown for convenient access

to the university. For instance, with the university’s optics expert

Michael Littman, he is working with NASA to develop a deep space

navigation sensor. He is working with an Air Force research lab on a

space craft project involving formation-flying satellites, and also

with the Missile Defense Agency to develop controls.

"Even though we have bread and butter contracts in aerospace control,

the post doc fellowship allows us to develop new technology, with the

benefit of creating new industries and affecting global warming," he

says.

Orthocon, 675 Route 1 South, Technology Center of New Jersey, North

Brunswick 08902; 732-683-9304; fax, 732-683-9476. Arthur A. Alfaro.

Home page: www.orthocon.com.

Orthocon’s second year fellow, Ankur Gandhi, will work in the

company’s main research area – products for orthopedic and spine

surgery based on "Syntinate," synthetic absorbable technology. It

hopes to change the way patients are medicated for post-operative pain

(U.S. 1, October 26, 2005).

This technology helps natural and synthetic orthobiologic compounds to

absorb and release drugs in precise quantities. For instance, Orthocon

combines a common painkiller, such as lidocaine, with a carrier

material to make a cream or a putty like paste, similar to playdough.

Surgeons apply it directly to the bone that has had the surgery.

Currently surgeons can put the lidocaine directly on the site but it

lasts only for a short period of time after the operation, whereas

Orthocon’s product can last three days or eight days, or even up to

six months. Orthocon also has patents for using a biomaterial for

hemostasis (stopping bleeding).

Alfaro majored in computer science at the University of Maryland,

Class of 1975, and has an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He

worked for 11 years at a Johnson & Johnson firm, Ethicon, in

Somerville, and has been a vice president at Boston Scientific

Corporation, where he managed the microvasive endoscopy division. He

was vice president of Sulzer Carbomedics in Austin, president of the

thoracolumbar division of Medtronic Sofamor Danek in Memphis, and most

recently was president and COO of Osteotech. He is married and has

five children.

Co-founder Richard Kronenthal, the son of a millinery manufacturer,

went to Brooklyn College, Class of 1951, and has his doctoral degree

in organic chemistry from the Polytechnic Institute of New York. After

a stint at Colgate-Palmolive, he spent 32 years at Ethicon, where he

won the Johnson Medal for Research and Development. Among the

successful products that he developed were Coated Vicryl and PDS

Sutures. He has 20 patents, has been chairman or president for five

companies, and is chief scientific officer and executive vice

president of this one.

Alfaro and Kronenthal founded Orthotherapeutics in 2003 and invested

$1.5 million in royalty profits in Orthocon, which they founded in

2005. Alfaro has his office at his farm home (167 Stone Hill Road,

Colts Neck 07722) but Kronenthal opened a laboratory at the Technology

Center of New Jersey in 2005.

Advaxis (ADXS), 675 Route 1 South, North Brunswick 08902;

732-545-1590; fax, 732-545-1084. Tom Moore, CEO. Home page:

www.advaxis.com.

Kyla Driscoll Caroll of UMDNJ will get a $75,000 first year fellowship

from the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. Advaxis has

therapeutic cancer vaccines that enhance immune systems’ cancer

fighting abilities. They could also be helpful in the areas of

infectious disease and autoimmune disorders (U.S. 1, January 17,

2007).

Advaxis is in the middle of its first human study, trying to determine

the maximum safe dose of Lovaxin C for treating cervical cancer.

"Unlike current products on the market, which are ineffective in women

already infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV), the cause of

cervical cancer, Lovaxin C is designed to treat women who have already

developed this cancer as a result of the infection," according to a

press release. The trial is being conducted in Israel, Serbia and

Mexico.

Phytomedics Inc., 1085 Cranbury-South River Road, Suite 8, Jamesburg

08831-3410; 609-655-0715; fax, 609-655-0552. Bertold Fridlender, CEO.

Home page: www.phytomedics.com.

Phytomedics, which develops botanical drugs, has $75,000 from the

Technology Fellowship Program to pay for the first-year services of

Caren Vilano, a post doc from Rutgers University. Phytomedics

discovers, develops, manufactures, and commercializes new

multi-component and multi-functional botanical therapeutics. Much of

its research is conducted at Rutgers by Ilya Raskin, the founder and

chief scientific officer.

Earlier in June CEO Bertold Fridlender announced an infusion of $9

million in series B financing. The round was led by Inventages Venture

Capital Investments Inc. and Burrill & Company. Monies will be used

for Phase III development activities for PMI-001, a drug for

rheumatoid arthritis. The firm is also working on products for Type II

diabetes, obesity, and age-related frailty.

"FDA defined botanical drugs are becoming a viable alternative to the

creation of blockbuster pharmaceutical candidates, at development

costs substantially below drug industry standards," said Fridlender in

a prepared statement.

Top Of Page
Incubator Seed Fund

New Jersey thinks nurturing young companies in state incubators makes

financial sense. NJCST awarded Incubator Seed Fund grants worth a

total of $240,000 to five companies that are located in one of 14

technology incubators and commercialization centers around the state.

Four of them are in central New Jersey. In addition to the Technology

Center of New Jersey in North Brunswick, there are two in Camden, two

in Mount Laurel, three in Newark, plus those in Bridgeton, Glassboro,

Bordentown, Jersey City, Dover, and Plainfield.

Currently there are 600 incubated, emerging small businesses in the

state that receive training and support, either virtually or actually

in a bricks and mortar incubator. About 80 percent of them are science

and technology based, says Michel Bitritto, assistant director of

"Innovation Management" at the Enterprise Development Centers in

Newark.

"The return on New Jersey’s investment in incubation is significant,

quantifiable, and immediate," says Bitritto, pointing to tax revenue

and jobs. Last year these incubated companies generated more than $200

million in revenue and created 1,600 higher paying jobs plus nearly

100 internships. Through federal grants, venture capital, and angel or

private investments, they brought in an additional $90 million, and

less than 10 percent of that came from state grants and loans.

New Jersey is not alone in prizing its young companies. For instance,

in Maryland, 17 incubators house 340 companies, and nearly 300 more

companies have graduated into commercial space, with 85 percent of

them staying in Maryland. In the last six months of 2006, incubator

companies raised more than $13.5 million in grants and more than $107

million in equity funding.

Aestus Therapeutics, 675 Route 1, NJ Technology Center, North

Brunswick 08902; 732-249-0690; fax, 732-875-0684. Tage Honore, CEO.

Home page: www.aestustherapeutics.com.

Early in his career, Tage Honore was told by his elders that his

research findings could not possibly be true. He proved them wrong. So

when his employer downsized, he went off on his own to do something

else unlikely – found a company that might fast-track discovery of new

drugs to treat pain.

Aestus Therapeutics has received $44,704 from the NJCST’s incubator

seed fund. A transitional medicine company focused on treatment of

disorders of the nervous system, Aestus mines publicly available gene

expression data to link diseases and biological pathways.

"We have a paradigm shift for finding new drugs," says Honore (whose

name is pronounced Tay Honor-ray). "Everyone screens new compounds. We

screen diseases to find a biological basis for the disease. When we

find a connection between the disease and the biology, finding a

compound is easy." Honore claims that he and his partner, Lillian

Chiang, have found six biological mechanisms that underlie neuropathic

pain and have never before been connected to neuropathic pain.

"All existing neuropathic pain products now work on ion channels, a

little hole in the nerve where ions change the electrical properties

of the nerve, thereby modifying the neuro transmission," he says.

"Most of the existing products are anti-epileptics and are used `off

label,’ because their primary use is for something else. We don’t have

a chance with the ion channels, so we screened the genome for

neuropathic pain to find the six mechanisms."

A native of Denmark, the 56-year-old Honore had previously worked at

Novartis, Novo Nordisk, and Purdue Pharma. He has a pharmacy degree, a

doctorate in medicinal chemistry, and a doctor of science degree in

neurobiology, all from the Royal Danish School of Pharmacy. He also

studied business at the Harvard Business School and the European

Management Centre. He and his Danish wife, also a scientist, have

three children, ages 3 to 15.

Honore’s once disputed discovery, as a post doc in 1981, is now

acknowledged to be involved in epilepsy, schizophrenia, pain, and

Parkinson’s Disease. In 2000 Honore left a job as senior executive

vice president at Novartis in Switzerland. In 2002 Purdue Pharma asked

him to open a 115,000 square-foot preclinical research lab at Cedar

Brook Corporate Center. He hired 80 people for a world class discovery

group, and in four years this group scored an unusual record – it

discovered two products that moved to clinical trials.

But Purdue, a Connecticut-based family-owned business, derived 80

percent of its revenue from OxyContin, and because of generic

competition, it had layoffs in 2004, slashing the Cedar Brook staff.

(Purdue’s facility now numbers about 50 people, but many moved in from

New York).

Lillian Chiang, whom Honore had hired to be responsible for molecular

biology and genome activities, left Purdue with Honore to co-found

Aestus and help bring drugs to the market faster and cheaper than is

usual in this industry. "We did not want to wait," says Honore. "We

brainstormed and started to develop the process we have now. We use

known technology in unusual ways."

"She developed a proprietary method to combine and analyze data sets

from three to five different sources, including our own," says Honore.

"From this we get very powerful datasets that reveal undiscovered

biological pathways connected to a particular disease."

Honore credits his original discovery to "a pioneer spirit. I wanted

to do something no one else is doing. Now hundreds of thousands of

people are working on the Ampa excitatory neuroreceptor," says Honore.

"It has been cloned and has been found in all the animal species."

Treadstone Technologies Inc., 201 Washington Road, CN 5300, Princeton

08543-5300; 609-734-2368; fax, 609-734-2873. Gerald deCuollo, CEO.

www.treadstone-technologies.com.

Earlier in the fiscal year this fuel cell research firm won a $50,000

NJCST Incubator Seed Fund grant for the Camden incubator. It also won

"best clean technology" at the New Jersey Technology Council venture

fair (U.S. 1, April 4). Now, with the June round of funding, it won a

second incubator seed fund grant, this one for $46,000.

Treadstone aims to enter the "hydrogen revolution," the push for

automakers to produce hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars to meet

zero-emission vehicle requirements in New Jersey and 10 other states.

It has a corrosion resistant metal plate technology, used in fuel cell

stacks, which are a component of fuel cell power sources.

Fuel cells qualify as "clean energy" because they produce minimum

amounts of greenhouse gases and they don’t pollute. If fuel cells use

pure hydrogen, only water and heat are the byproducts. They make

electricity by combining oxygen with hydrogen (or hydrogen-rich fuel).

The Camden incubator is known by the acronym ACIN for applied

communications and information networking, and it supports the U.S.

military. Though CEO Gerald deCuollo is renting office space in

Camden, the incubator does not yet have wet lab capabilities, so he is

also still leasing space at Sarnoff.

The NJSCT monies don’t pay the rent for either location. That comes

from the $400,000 in angel funding from Virginia-based Commerce

International. Treadstone allocated January’s seed-fund grant for the

corrosion-resistant metal plate technology, a far-forward scheme. The

June monies will develop hydrogen generation for current commercial

applications.

But the two technologies are synergistic, he says. "One of the

components for a hydrogen power source is the `stack’ where the

chemistry takes place. Our metal plate technology is associated with

the stack, and the hydrogen source is synergistic with the stack. It

is capable of being used in the current marketplace for hydrogen

generation technology for electronics, medical, and refinery

purposes."

HMgene, 675 Route 1, NJ Technology Center, North Brunswick 08902;

732-246-5520; fax, 732-246-5338. Kiran Chada, chief scientific

officer. www.hmgene.com.

HMGene has just received $50,000 from the NJCST’s Incubator Seed Fund

Grant program. The firm does research on new therapies for metabolic

disorders, focusing on obesity.

Switch2Health, Box 5027, Somerset 08873; 201-406-2057; fax,

732-332-0623. Seth Tropper, president. switch2health.com.

Switch2Health has joined the bevy of companies that aim to improve

everyone’s health. Its particular mission is to promote physical

activity in children and adults. It has received a $50,000 Incubator

Seed Fund Grant from the New Jersey Center for Science and Technology

to develop an initial product offering, geared primarily to children.

It is similar to Princeton Living Well, the subject of U.S. 1’s June

20 cover story, because it will have an interactive web site and a

reward structure, but Switch2Health will focus on products that

monitor physical activity.

"The more activity you engage in," explains Seth Tropper, who is the

company’s president and cofounder, "the more points you will get, and

these can be redeemed for discounts, goods, and services." Tropper has

a bachelor’s degree in computer science and applied statistics from

St. John’s University in New York and a master’s degree in technology

management from the Stevens Institute. Between college and graduate

school, he spent about 10 years in information technology management

at AT&T and IBM.

Tropper formed this company in 2006, after he sold Plasmasol, the

medical technology company he spun out of Stevens Institute. He met

co-founder Amado Batour two years ago, introduced by a mutual friend.

They have two programmers working on the website and have outsourced

engineering and product design. They are in discussions with potential

customers who would deploy the device they are developing and provide

a reward structure.

The firm has also been accepted at the Economic Development

Authority’s Technology Center in North Brunswick and is currently in

real estate negotiations with the center; Tropper hopes to move there

in a month and a half.

The initial idea of rewarding people for physical activity came from

Batour. "Given all the press, media, and statistics around overweight

and obesity, particularly as it relates to children," Tropper

explains, "we tried to think about what we could do to get people

moving."

The pair are thinking big, pursuing questions like "What if the

medical healthcare industry would provide a discount on premiums if

people engage in a certain level of physical activity?" They believe

their device and reward structure would also work well as an add-on to

corporate wellness programs, which are "a huge industry," says

Tropper.

Top Of Page
Innovation Fund

Of the $5.3 million dispersed this month, the NJCST put more than $2.2

million into commercializing promising technologies. The Edison

Innovation R&D program gives grants for research and

commercialization, and the $2.2 million leveraged another $1.5 million

in private investment fund. In partnership with New Jersey research

universities, it funds activities necessary for commercialization of

an identified technology. Of the five grants, two went to companies at

Princeton Corporate Plaza – Orthobond and Exsar.

Orthobond, 7 Deer Park Drive, Suite N, Monmouth Junction 08852;

609-688-0077; fax, 609-688-0041. Hans Hull, president. Home page:

www.orthobond.com.

Sometimes a good idea results when a couple of people who know each

other start batting around some ideas. When the wife of Greg Lutz,

co-founder of Orthobond, was young, she lived next door to Jeffrey

Schwartz and babysat for his kids. So when Schwartz started to have

back problems, he went to Lutz, a noted physiatrist. "They started

discussing issues with orthopedic medical devices," says Michael

Barden, Orthobond’s vice president for research and development, "and

it evolved from there."

They had some good ideas, did some projects, and eventually were able

to patent some technologies in the late 1990s. Schwartz, a professor

of chemistry at Princeton University, published series of papers,

mostly about coating metal devices used for metal implants, an idea

that Orthobond has used for hip implants. The company started at the

university in 2004 and opened its laboratory on Deer Park Drive last

year.

For its seed money, Orthobond sold equity to angel investors. Now the

company has received $498,028 from the Edison Innovation R&D Fund. The

monies will be split about 4 to 1 with Schwartz, who developed the

base technology – a process for creating stable synthetic-biological

interfaces, especially between medical devices and the human body.

Orthobond’s share will go for in vivo studies of its spine-fusion

product for patients with late-stage disk disease; the goal of the

fusion is to relieve pain.

The existing treatment for late-stage disk disease is surgical, an

"instrumented fusion" that requires putting screws and rods into the

patient’s back. Orthobond’s alternative procedure, which the firm

calls "percutaneous biological fusion," is a noninvasive procedure

through the patient’s skin. A needle is inserted into the space

between two disks, and, using a special set of very thin tubes the

company has developed, the surgeon injects a gel that facilitates a

spontaneous fusion of the disks by encouraging bone growth.

It has tested the tools developed for the procedure in cadaver studies

and the injectable gel in vitro in the lab. Now it will test for

safety and efficacy in animals, which is expected to take up to six

months. Orthobond is particularly interested in the quality of the

bone that develops after the injection; it is looking for hardened

bone, not cartilage. Eventually it will move to small to medium-sized

clinical trials in humans.

Although Orthobond has done animal studies for a related project, the

percutaneous biological fusion procedure will be the company’s first

major product.

As this product moves into the clinical stage, and later when the firm

starts development on new products, it expects to expand its staff.

Earlier this year Lutz, who had been the president, decided to focus

on his medical practice in New York, where he is head of physiatry at

the Hospital for Special Surgery, but he remains board chair and chief

medical officer. Hans Hull, an intellectual property attorney who has

also done sales and marketing consulting, is now the president.

ExSAR Corporation, 11 Deer Park Drive, Suite 103, Monmouth Junction

08852; 732-438-6500; fax, 732-438-1919. Bijan Almassian, president and

CEO. Home page: www.exsar.com.

ExSar Corporation received $300,000 from the Edison Innovation R&D

Fund, administered by NJCST. It also will get $75,000 under the NJ

Technology Fellowship Program to fund the first year for post-doc

Deepangi Pandit.

Founded by venture capitalist Robert F. Johnston as Carta Proteomics,

it is one of the companies that claims to speed up the analysis and

profiling of potential drugs (U.S. 1, June 26, 2002). Using

proprietary methods of mass spectroscopy, it focuses on hydrogen

deuterium exchange and structural activity relationships, such as

misfolded protein disorders.

In April the Food and Drug Administration approved ExSAR’s

investigational new drug application (IND) for the treatment of Adult

Tay-Sachs. The firm is also working on drugs for Gaucher and

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

It also offers its technology on contract basis and collaborates with

Peter Lobel’s biological mass spectrometry facility at Robert Wood

Johnson Medical School, according to Bijan Almassian, ExSar’s CEO.

For two years Almassian has been working to transform the company from

a platform based service provider to a drug development business.

After majoring in chemistry at the University of Arak, Iran, he earned

a master’s at Northeastern University and a PhD in medicinal chemistry

the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, doing postdoctoral oncology

research at Boston University Medical School. He was director of

pharmaceutical development at California-based Genelabs Technologies,

vice president at Vion Pharmaceuticals in New Haven, Connecticut, and

president and COO of AlexiPharma, focusing on neuropathic pain and

obesity. Most recently he was COO of Panacea Pharmaceuticals in

Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Top Of Page
SBIR Grants

When New Jersey companies get money from the federal government under

the Small Business Innovation Research program, sometimes it takes a

while for the checks to be cut. In those cases, the state sometimes

hands out "bridge" grants. In June $200,000 was awarded to four

companies under the program, and two were from Princeton.

Nova Photonics Inc., 1 Oak Place, Princeton 08540; 609-243-3463; fax,

609-243-2418. Fred Levinton, president. www.novaphotonics.com.

Nova Photonics has a $50,000 SBIR bridge grant. Operating out of the

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and sometimes working in

collaboration with that lab, the firm has developed advanced plasma

diagnostics for fusion. Now it is marketing its specialized tools to a

wider range of applications.

Its SBIR grant, from the United States Navy, supports development of a

wide field, high throughput, narrow band optical filter for submarine

communication.

The president, Fred Levinton, is a fellow of the American Physical

Society and received his doctorate in physics from Columbia University

in 1983. Levinton says that his firm has completed Phase 1 of the

project and has been notified by the Navy that it will be getting

Phase 2 support. The bridge grant provides money to continue research

during the gap between the two phases. The company now has seven

employees and may hire a new person for this project.

Viocare Technologies Inc., 145 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542;

609-497-4600; fax, 609-497-0660. Rick Weiss, president.

www.viocare.com.

Rick Weiss was on the cover of the June 20 issue as a co-founder for

Princeton Living Well, but his first company, Viocare Technologies,

continues to grow. Weiss is known in the Einstein Alley community for

leveraging federal and state funding programs, and his most recent win

is a 50,000 SBIR bridge grant from the NJCST.

Viocare develops health and nutrition software, including packages for

research nutritionists.

Top Of Page
Edison Fund Loan Invests in Signum

Signum Biosciences, 1 Deer Park Drive, Princeton Corporate Plaza,

Suite L-2, Monmouth Junction 08852; 732-329-6344; fax, 732-329-8344.

Greg Stock, CEO. www.signumbiosciences.com

Along with the largesse of outright grants from the NJSCST, one

Princeton-based biotech, Signum Biosciences, scored a $1 million loan.

The loan came from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority,

through the Edison Innovation Fund.

Signum was incubated at Princeton University and founded by two

brothers, Jeffrey and Greg Stock. They grew up in Arizona, Great

Britain, and Baltimore, and both went to Johns Hopkins, graduating in

1968 and 1971 respectively. Jeff stayed in the lab and came to teach

and do research at Princeton University, and Greg combined bio with

business, turning his attention to public policy and writing popular

nonfiction books (U.S. 1, June 30, 2004).

Using research on protein networks and cellular signaling imbalances,

the company hopes to develop drugs for an array of diseases,

everything from cardiac conditions and Parkinson’s to arthritis,

cancer, and skin diseases. The core technology is licensed from the

university.

"The Edison Innovation Fund investment will allow our company to

accelerate its creation of new healthcare products and enhance its

efforts to develop therapeutics for chronic illnesses that simply

cannot be effectively treated today," says Greg Stock, the CEO.

"Investing in Signum, a company dedicated to creating innovative

healthcare products to treat and prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and

diabetes, is just one example of how the Edison Innovation Fund works

to ensure that our technology and life science businesses are able to

compete in the global, high-tech economy," said Caren Franzini, EDA’s

CEO, in a prepared statement.

The EDA manages the $150 million fund, and the fund leverages $350

million in private capital.

In exchange for a fixed interest rate for the five-year loan, Signum

has agreed to create 13 new jobs within two years; it has 16 people

now at Deer Park Drive. It was also successful, under the New Jersey

Commission on Science and Technology post-doc fellowship program, to

extend its fellowship for Eduardo Perez for a second year.

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Stem Cell Support

Despite the federal government’s inability to get past a presidential

veto and dole out money for stem cell research, individual states are

doing that on their own. In June the New Jersey Commission on Science

and Technology doubled its funding for stem cell research and gave out

more than $10 million in stem cell research grants, including $5.5

million for core facilities at Rutgers and UMDNJ, and nearly $5

million in individual grants, including one to Sidney Pestka, right,

founder of a firm that spun out of Rutgers.

"The commission, through the Stem Cell Research Grant Program, is

proud to play a role in furthering Governor Corzine’s objective of

enhancing New Jersey’s position as a national leader in stem cell

research," said James Coleman Jr., commission chairman. "The program

provides an opportunity to conduct this cutting edge research right

here in the Garden State."

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Development Authority authorized $9.2

million for predevelopment funding of the New Brunswick Stem Cell

Institute.

More than 73 investigators applied for 16 individual grants. Pestka’s

$300,000 grant was one of 11 grants given to researchers at University

of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and five more grants were

allocated to university researchers. At Princeton, Jonathan

Eggenschwiler won the money for a project titled "Control of the Sonic

Hedgehog Signaling Pathway in Neuronal Differentiation of Embryonic

Stem Cells."

Pestka will work on using stem cells to deliver biotherapeutics for

the treatment of cancers. The son of a Polish steelworker and tavern

owner, he graduated from Trenton High and majored in chemistry at

Princeton University, Class of 1957. After the University of

Pennsylvania medical school, he did research at the National

Institutes of Health and the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology. He

was the first to purify many of the human interferon alpha and

interferon beta species in the late 1970s and early 1980s (U.S. 1,

June 26, 2002).

Founded in 1990, PBL does R&D on interferons and other cytokines for

the treatment of cancer (U.S. 1, August 28, 2002.) Over the past five

years it has expanded from 25 to 40 people and now has 15,000 square

feet plus a lab at Rutgers.

PBL Biomedical Laboratories, 131 Ethel Road West, Piscataway 08854;

732-777-9123; fax, 732-777-9141. Robert Pestka, president and CEO.

Home page: www.pblbio.com.


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