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Accord Biosciences wants to break new ground in cell-to-cell communication

Scientists have long recognized nitric oxide as an important building block of human life. Arguably as critical as oxygen, the blood-born compound is critical in transmitting information between cells within our bodies. It's key to vasoregulation, as well as the immune system and neurological processes. But because it's hard to isolate from blood, all of its functions aren't fully understood.

An Ohio company, Accord Biosciences Inc., hopes to change that.

The three-year-old company, based in Sylvania, is advancing the field of study to develop practical sensor systems to measure nitric oxide. Using a proprietary membrane and stabilization techniques allows them to separate nitric oxide from its protein carriers, giving researchers its best look yet at the compound.

"Up until now, it's been very difficult to study nitric oxide and its carriers because we haven't had the right tools," says Accord president Kristyn Aalto. "Based on that need and the criticality for better tools, out reception has been overwhelming."

Last year, the company roped in $3.8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Cleveland Clinic and venture capitalists. While currently focused primarily on the research applications of their work, Aalto says Accord's work will eventually find its way to clinical use, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment for a range of hyper- and hypotensive diseases, such as pulmonary hypertension, preeclampsia in pregnant women and sepsis. It could also head to market as a hand-held, glucose meter-type self-diagnostic tool.

"There's unlimited potential," Aalto adds.

Incorporated in 2008, Accord spun out from research conducted at the University of Michigan.  Late last year, the company moved its administrative headquarters to Sylvania in northwest Ohio to take advantage of new partnerships and opportunities, but also took an office in Cleveland's Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center, home to a technology commercialization consortium of 20 emerging cardiovascular companies.

With seven employees split between Sylvania and the lab back in Ann Arbor, Aalto says major growth is expected for the company over the next 18 months. By the end of this year, its lab will move to Ohio. By the end of 2012, Accord's staff is expected to double, as they continue their work, she says.

"We've already had a very positive response from the research community," she explains. "It's not too hard to anticipate just as positive a response from the clinical community, too."

Source: Kristyn Aalto, Accord Biosciences
Writer: Dave Malaska

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