The MDI Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) in Bar Harbor, Maine was founded in 1898 as a summer research and education facility to study and conduct research on biological processes in a diverse range of organisms. The Institution has been transformed in the 21st century and is justifiably recognized by the international science community and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a world leader in regenerative medicine and aging research.
The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) has helped play a role in this transformation by investing over $5 million from the Maine Biomedical Research Program (MBRP). The program promotes economic development by expanding biomedical research activities statewide, while improving disease treatment and prevention options for Maine citizens. It also supports biomedical research organizations successful in attracting federal research grants and provides incentives for small, eligible institutions to grow.
“Funding from the Maine Biomedical Research Program played a critical role in our ability to expand into a vibrant, year-round research institution,” said Dr. Patricia Hand.
The funds helped renovate existing laboratories, purchase scientific equipment and construct a new 15,000 square-foot “green” building, the first LEED-certified biomedical research laboratory in Maine. In addition, it enabled the recruitment of 10 leading scientists to the Center for Marine Functional Genomic Studies. With new facilities and top scientists, the MDI Biological Laboratory has dramatically increased its competitive position.
MTI investments also helped MDI Biological Laboratory launch its first for-profit venture, Novo Biosciences, Inc. Novo Biosciences is primarily focused on regenerative medicine and they are investigating the regenerative abilities of D. radio, the zebrafish, which can regrow their fins, tail and even their heart muscle. Novo Biosciences is working to understand the function of regenerative compounds found in zebrafish as well as humans. The cost of tissue damage due to human regenerative inability is enormous in terms of healthcare (estimates exceed $400 billion in the US), lost economic productivity, diminished quality of life, and premature death. A tremendous need exist to identify technologies or therapies that enhance tissue repair.
Novo Biosciences has identified a small molecule that significantly amplifies and hastens regeneration of complex limb tissues and heart muscle. MTI has helped advance this research through deployment of tech start and seed grants. There are no promises and there is years of work to be done, but this simple compound may change the lives of millions of people around the world.