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Three Pittsburgh Firms Split $350K

Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG), a regional organization dedicated to nurturing startup life sciences companies in Southwestern Pennsylvania, has invested $350,000 in three local firms -- Falcon Genomics, Glucose Sensing Technologies, and Celsense. The funding comes on the heels of three other sizable investments by PLSG since May and brings the organization's total investment in regional companies to $7.5 million. Falcon Genomics received the greatest share of this latest investment. PLSG put $150,000 behind the three-year-old company and its Cancer BioChip System (CBCS), a high throughput assay system for individualized cancer target identification and validation using silencing RNA. In breast cancer alone, there are 70 different abnormal genes identified and associated with patient prognosis. Falcon's CBCS is being developed to help determine which of these abnormal genes is responsible for the uncontrolled cell division that causes tumor growth. Glucose Sensing Technologies received $100,000 to support development and testing in vitro a prototype catheter that will be used to continually measure blood glucose levels in an ICU setting. Finally, Celsense, a local company founded in 2005 to commercialize imaging platforms licensed from Carnegie Mellon University, was handed $100,000 to further commercialization of its flagship product, Cell Sense, an MRI tracer agent that labels cells in culture. When labeled cells are transferred to a living subject, the transplanted cells can be imaged in their anatomical context using MRI. Cell Sense is used to track, in real-time, the delivery, migration, duration and quantity of transplanted cells in vivo; this has the potential to speed up development of new therapies for a variety of diseases. Last month, Celsense announced that it had delivered initial quantities of Cell Sense to customers in the U.S. and Europe. This is PLSG's second investment in Celsense. In May, the organization committed $150,000 to the firm. "This latest round of investments marks a significant milestone for the PLSG," said John Manzetti, the organization's president and CEO. "The PLSG has invested $7.5 million directly in 40 regional companies which has leveraged $154 million in additional investments to those companies." PLSG was founded in 2001. Other recent PLSG investments include iNTELOMED, a new cardiovascular diagnostic firm that in July received $100,000. The company is spending the money on proof-of-concept testing and prototype development of CVInsight, a non-invasive bedside test that measures cardiovascular stability. Also in July, PLSG invested $180,000 in Cartesia Dx, to support development and testing of a prototype for its Arthritis Imager device.

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