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Dealflow: Funding of Innovative Startups

Osiris Therapeutics, Miasole, PicoChip, and more
September 1, 2005

Company Spotlight
Miasol
  Several solar startups with innovative new technologies, including Nanosolar and Konarka, have recently received venture-capital funding. Miasolis looking to make solar power cost-effective by using thin-film manufacturing techniques, avoiding the expensive processing that silicon-based solar cells require.

Miasol enjoys great buzz thanks to a $16 million investment from the superstar VC firm Kleiner, Perkins. However, its competitor Nanosolar has also recently raised $20 million. It remains to be seen whether these new types of solar cells are generating investments based on the general promise of cleaner energy or whether they are commercially feasible technologies able to compete with existing and well-entrenched silicon-based photovoltaics.

Osiris Therapeutics  Amid all the debate over embryonic-stem-cell research, Osiris Therapeutics has been advancing the development of adult-stem-cell therapies. By using stem cells extracted from the bone marrow of living adults, Osiris has dodged the criticism that it is unethical to harvest cells from embryos.

Some Osiris products are already undergoing human tests. The first treatment for bone marrow transplant complications in leukemia patients is in phase II clinical trials and is the only stem-cell product with U.S. Food and Drug Administration fast-track status, according to Osiris. Two other products are also ready for human trials. One, designed to heal heart muscle damage in heart-attack patients, is in phase I clinical trials, and another, which will help repair knee tissue, recently won FDA approval to begin clinical trials.

While it is generally accepted by scientists that embryonic stem cells will have broader therapeutic applications, adult stem cells could also play a valuable role in repairing some types of tissue, and Osiris’s approach seems to be working. The company believes that, if all goes according to plan, its first therapeutic product may be available by 2007. 

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