BAR HARBOR, MAINE – Research at the MDI Biological Laboratory has led to the launching of a new company to investigate the therapeutic potential of drugs that speed tissue healing and stimulate regeneration of lost and damaged body parts. Novo Biosciences, Inc., will begin by studying a drug that has been found to double the rate at which complex tissues regrow after amputation in the biomedical research model Danio rerio (zebrafish). The company will be based in Bar Harbor and plans to employ three to four research technicians in its initial phase.
Kevin Strange, Ph.D., MDIBL director, said that MDIBL’s first spin-off company is important for economic growth in Maine, and represents the kind of exciting scientific progress and economic benefit that President Obama heralded in his recent State of the Union speech. “President Obama noted that American scientists are ‘developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs,’ and that’s exactly what MDIBL is doing. Humans and other mammals have very limited regenerative abilities. A drug that promotes healing and the growth of healthy, new tissue would be of enormous benefit to human and veterinary medicine.”
Voot Yin, Ph.D., assistant professor at MDIBL, studies how zebrafish grow new limbs and organs after amputation or other damage. He discovered the dramatic effects of the new drug on regeneration and will be involved in the new company.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to investigate these remarkable findings and possibly develop new treatments,” said Yin. “That’s why scientists in MDIBL’s Davis Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine study zebrafish and other animal models that excel in regenerating lost and damaged tissue and organs. We’re learning which genes and genetic pathways they use to grow new limbs and repair their hearts and other organs. We now know that humans and zebrafish share these same genes. What we want to learn is why human regeneration mechanisms work so poorly. Novo Biosciences will help develop drugs that can stimulate and reactivate these mechanisms.”
Venture capital and grant funding is being sought to launch the company. Any royalties from the Novo Biosciences will benefit MDIBL’s research and education programs.