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Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund Launches Manufacturing Assistance Program

Since 2006, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF) has played a pivotal role in supporting Maryland-based researchers and companies that are developing new medical strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of human diseases, injuries, and conditions through human stem cells.

The MSCRF has been instrumental in the launch and growth of a host of Maryland stem cell companies since it created its Accelerating Cures initiative in 2017. The Accelerating Cures initiative has helped move 104 technologies into validation, companies, and the clinic. In addition, the MSCRF has supported 26 research/product development/clinical trial grants in the past five years (compared to 12 in the previous ten years).

MSCRF funding programs within the Accelerating Cures initiative previously included six areas—clinical trials, discovery, commercialization, validation, launch, and post-doctoral fellowships that have awarded over $52M across some 177 projects related to stem cell research and commercialization Overall, MSCRF has supported more than 500 projects with over $175M in funding.

And now, the MSCRF has recently announced a seventh funding program called the Manufacturing Assistance Program.

The Manufacturing Assistance Program is designed to help growth-stage stem cell companies fund and build out their manufacturing capabilities, which is a major need, particularly among the Fund’s portfolio companies that have reached this stage in their development.

“I‘m delighted to announce a new program to provide manufacturing assistance to cell therapy companies in Maryland. It’s been incredibly important to us to support our companies as they move towards clinical trials and in this industry, manufacturing remains a key challenge for early-stage companies,” stated Dr. Amritha Jaishankar, the Executive Director of the MSCRF, who has spearheaded the Accelerating Cures initiative since 2017.

Dr. Amritha Jaishankar

“This program will provide initial resources to enable GMP production of cell therapy products in Maryland. This will help our companies advance their therapies to patients sooner and in a more cost-effective way, whilst simultaneously creating and retaining an advanced therapy manufacturing workforce in our region,” she added.

The Manufacturing Assistance Program is for Maryland-based stem cell companies to build or acquire modular manufacturing facilities, prefabricated clean rooms, closed systems, or similar manufacturing platforms to enable GMP production of cell therapy products within Maryland. All projects will require, at a minimum, a 1:1 match of non-state money, with up to 2 years from the effective date of the award to make the funded manufacturing arrangement operational.

Applicants can request up to $1M in funding from the program during the MSCRF’s January application cycle.

“As the cell therapy industry continues to grow, the demand and price for GMP facilities continue to rise. The establishment of the MSCRF’s Manufacturing Assistance Program will enable growing biotechnology companies like Vita Therapeutics to begin the process of owning their own clinical scale facilities which could yield significant financial savings in the long term. We’re very excited about the opportunity to access this program in the future,” stated Doug Falk, CEO of Vita Therapeutics, one of the MSCRF’s portfolio companies.

For MSCRF portfolio companies like Baltimore, Maryland’s Vita Therapeutics and many other Maryland stem cell companies at a similar growth stage, the Manufacturing Assistance Program provides an opportunity to help alleviate a major pain point along the path toward commercialization. The MSCRF’s portfolio includes some of the more promising Maryland stem cell organizations, including Vita Therapeutics, LifeSprout, Seraxis, Cartesian Therapeutics, RoosterBio, and Theradaptive, to name just a few. 

With a 2023 budget of $20.5M and a host of funding programs, Maryland-based stem cell companies and research labs have ample opportunity via the MSCRF to advance important projects and products that will help reduce time to market and save more lives with groundbreaking scientific advancements in the stem cell field.