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As other states pull back, Kansas accelerates innovation investments at bio international convention

Kansas

Meeting at the world's largest bioscience and biotechnology convention May 19, the Kansas Bioscience Authority has approved more than $11 million in new investments as part of a $581 million initiative to help researchers and businesses thrive in the state.

The funding decisions made at the Bio International Convention will create bioscience centers of innovation in biomaterials and plant biology, expand cancer drug development efforts, and create a strong bioenergy research partnership between the University of Kansas and the Archer Daniels Midland Company.

Centers of innovation

The Kansas Innovation Center for Advanced Plant Design will receive $4 million over two years to develop advanced technologies for gene discovery, trait validation and crop improvement in order to deliver new products and production platforms. The global research team associated with the center will focus on emerging commercial opportunities for wheat and sorghum, crops in which Kansas has world-renowned leadership and expertise.

The center is a public and private collaboration of Kansas Wheat, Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, and many private investors. Within 10 years, the center is projected to create 36 patents, 20 commercial start-ups and 285 jobs.

The KBA also will invest $4 million in the Center of Innovation for Biomaterials in Orthopaedic Research to create medical instruments, medical devices, and composite implants that will improve the practice of orthopedic medicine. The center will focus on commercial viability, conducting research requested by industry to meet market needs and capitalizing on the concentration of composites expertise found in Wichita due to the state's long-standing aviation industry leadership.

Partnering to form this center are Wichita State University, the National Institute of Aviation Research, the Wichita Composites Advisory Board, Kansas State University, Pittsburgh State University, and Via Christi Health. It is expected to increase employment in Kansas by 2,000 over 10 years.

This brings the number of approved centers of innovation to four after the March approval of the Kansas Bioscience Innovation Center in Drug Delivery and Kansas Bioenergy and Biorefining Center of Innovation.

Cancer drug development

Adding to the investment of more than $32 million in drug discovery and delivery projects in March, the KBA is committing another $1.9 million this month:

--Lenexa-based CyDex Pharmaceuticals will receive $195,000 to commercialize re-formulated drugs that address limitations of existing therapies. A focus will be improving a cancer drug for patients with multiple myeloma (cancer of the Plasma B cells formed in the bone marrow).

--CritiTech and SCF Technologies of Lawrence were awarded $50,000 to further develop a novel approach to converting drugs into dry, sterile powder form. The process is expected to significantly reduce costs in drug manufacturing, while easing the process of administering drugs for both physicians and patients. The investment is a partial match to a $100,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute.

--Manhattan-based NanoScale will use $50,000 in KBA matching funds to expedite the testing of nanoparticles for diagnostic and therapeutic uses in fighting cancer. These "stealth" particles are expected to allow earlier disease detection and to improve the ability of drugs to hit their intended targets with fewer side effects. The company received a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research award from the National Institutes of Health.

--A $500,000 Collaborative Cancer Research Initiative (CCRI) investment will go to the University of Kansas Cancer Center and Scripps Research Institute. The research is intended to reduce the unwanted toxicity often associated with chemotherapy and improve the treatment of breast and prostate cancers.

--A second $500,000 CCRI investment was approved to initiate Phase I clinical trials in the Wichita area through a partnership of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, Cancer Center of Kansas, Midwest Cancer Alliance and Via Christi Regional Medical Center. Phase I trials will complement the successful Phase II and III programs in Wichita and strengthen rural and regional treatment options.

--A $600,000 project budget was committed for the KBA to support the University of Kansas Cancer Center's efforts to bring cutting-edge cancer treatments closer to home for millions of Kansans through National Cancer Institute designation.

Bioenergy research partnership

The KBA will provide $1.2 million over three years for bioenergy research at the University of Kansas Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis as a match to $1.2 million being invested by Archer Daniels Midland Company, which operates five processing plants, a technical center, and sales and distribution offices throughout Kansas. Research will focus on converting multiple feedstocks, including biomass, into a wide platform of fuels and chemicals to replace or improve upon petroleum-based products. The university will provide in-kind support valued at more than $334,000.



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