Mount Desert Island Biological / NOVO Biosciences

Fixing Broken Hearts

The Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) in Bar Harbor 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 as a world leader in regenerative and aging biology and medicine 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, administrative director of MDIBL.

According to MDIBL’s 2008 report to MTI, 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 lab 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, MDIBL dramatically increased its competitive position.

MTI investments also helped Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory launch its first for-profit venture, Novo Biosciences, Inc.   Novo Biosciences is primarily focused on the possibilities of regenerative medicine and its researchers are investigating the regenerative abilities of Zebrafish. Zebrafish are a unique species. They can regrow their fins, tail and even their heart muscle. Novo Biosciences is working hard to understand the function of regenerative compounds found in zebrafish. The compound they have discovered also exists in humans.  The cost of tissue damage due to human regenerative inability is enormous in terms of health care (estimated to exceed $400 billion in the USA), lost economic productivity, diminished quality of life, and premature death. Therefore, there is a tremendous need to identify technology that enhances 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 the 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.

Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory
PO Box 35
Salisbury Cove, ME 04672

Novo Biosciences
164 Old Bar Harbor Road
Bar Harbor, ME 04609