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Columbia Biotech Company Wins $200K Grant

A startup based in Columbia created a breakthrough to help diabetics protect their vision.

Vasoptic Medical Inc. developed a special tool that resulted in a $200,000 grant from Maryland's Biotechnology Development Awards program.
Vasoptic Medical Inc. developed a special tool that resulted in a $200,000 grant from Maryland's Biotechnology Development Awards program.
A Columbia company was one of seven grant recipients in an initiative to bring advanced technology into the commercial marketplace in Maryland.

Vasoptic Medical, a member of Howard County's Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship on Bendix Road, was awarded $200,000 for a tool it created to facilitate early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy.

This medical condition affects 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can cause vision loss and blindness as the result of abnormal blood vessels in the eye or fluid leaking, the National Eye Institute reports.

To help catch diabetic retinopathy early, Vasoptic created a low-cost retinal imaging instrument, for which it received $200,000, the maximum grant awarded through the state's Biotechnology Development Awards program.

"This funding is really important in helping us advance our prototype and gets us closer to a clinic-ready device," Vasoptic CEO and co-founder M. Jason Brooke said in a statement released Thursday by the Howard County Economic Development Authority.

The device will help doctors diagnose and manage eye disease, preventing more severe visual impairment and blindness for diabetes patients, Brooke said.

The BioMaryland Center doled out nearly $1.5 million to life sciences companies and one educational institution through its Biotechnology Development Awards program this year, Governor Martin O’Malley announced this week.

The following companies each received up to $200,000 each to accelerate the commercialization of a wide range of treatments and technologies, according to MDBIZNEWS, a publication of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development:
  • AsclepiX Therapeutics of Baltimore created a long-lasting drug to improve vision and reduce eye injections for macular degeneration patients.
  • Brain Sentry of Bethesda made helmet-mounted sensors for youths playing sports to detect and count possible concussive injury hits.
  • Clear Guide Medical of Baltimore designed technology to increase accuracy, speed and safety in needle biopsies.
  • Cordex Systems of Annapolis enhanced a blood pressure cuff to measure endothelial dysfunction, the earliest indicator of atherosclerosis.
  • Harpoon Medical of Stevensville devised a surgical tool to help surgeons repair the mitral valve using a minimally invasive beating-heart approach.
  • Otomagnetics of College Park made a magnetic particle drug delivery system to treat sudden hearing loss and eventually common ear infections.
  • Vasoptic Medical of Columbia made a low-cost portable retinal imaging instrument for early diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, which affects more than one third of individuals with diabetes.
  • Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore designed a system to help secure puncture sites during cardiac ablation therapy, compensating for beating hearts.

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