The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development this week announced that Cellphire, a Rockville biotechnology company, has received a $1 million investment through the State’s InvestMaryland program. Cellphire is developing stabilized cellular products, including freeze-dried platelets that can be stored for years, for use in a range of advanced therapeutic and diagnostic applications.
“Supporting entrepreneurs and innovators like those at Cellphire is a central piece of Maryland’s broad support of the startups and small businesses that move our Innovation Economy forward and keep our State competitive in the 21st Century,” said Governor O’Malley. “The technology being developed by Cellphire has the potential to improve care and save lives around the globe.”
“The underlying technology that Cellphire has developed promises to provide a quantum leap forward in how cells are handled and used within healthcare today,” said Cellphire CEO Stephen H. Willard. “Our initial application – platelets – is a perfect example, as untreated platelets last five days outside of a donor’s body. With our patented treatment, we are able to freeze dry platelet derived products for storage measured in years, at room temperature. Reconstitution is as simple as adding sterile water. This investment from MVF enables us to begin pursuing other applications in diagnostics, sports medicine, plastic surgery and dentistry.”
Administered by the State’s Maryland Venture Fund (MVF), InvestMaryland is a public-private partnership of the State and venture capital firms and is one of Governor Martin O’Malley’s key economic development initiatives. InvestMaryland raised $84 million to reinvigorate the State-run MVF and support the growth of young Maryland companies in biotechnology, cybersecurity, e-commerce and other high-growth industries.
Stable Blood Products for Pandemics and Disaster Preparedness
Last year, Cellphire received a contract worth up to $57 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research Defense Authority (BARDA), a division of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The funding will be used to continue development of the company’s freeze-dried platelet product, Thrombosomes, and move it closer to winning Food and Drug Administration approval. Founded as a bio-defense company in early 2006, Cellphire’s initial focus was on applications within the global blood supply market.
The fragility of the blood supply is a concern for agencies and other groups planning a response to potential pandemics, such as avian influenza or other natural or man-made disasters that could interrupt the supply of platelets needed to treat casualties. Cellphire has since expanded its scope, developing technologies and products with diverse applications across blood transfusion, advanced care of chronic and acute wounds and diagnostic reagents used in clinical and research settings.