The Wire Goes Bio: Baltimore’s Becoming a Biotech Powerhouse

Sep 24, 2019 | Baltimore, Biotech Cluster, Biotech Hub, University of Maryland BioPark

Another biotech has moved to Baltimore to be near the University of Maryland BioPark in the heart of the city, which was the backdrop for the critically acclaimed show “The Wire.”  The latest venture, KaloCyte, leaves St. Louis, Missouri, and heads east for Baltimore—quite possibly one of the most fascinating cities in America and increasingly home to a thriving biotech industry.

The Latest Venture

KaloCyte’s product is called ErythroMer, a blood product created to handle blood loss situations during trauma conditions—often where blood loss is the leading cause of preventable death— but for the lack of blood. The Baltimore Sun reports that there are no real blood substitutes but products are in the pipeline.

If ErythroMer ultimately is deemed safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it may well become the only blood substitute allowing medical personnel to freeze-dry for extensive storage and transportation scenarios. Use cases abound but prominent ones include military and domestic trauma scenarios not to mention usage in developing countries.

Why did KaloCyte move to Baltimore?

First, biotech is blossoming in this dynamic, diverse and determined city. For example, the University of Maryland announced a 10-story tower on the water front that will be continue to infuse exiting, intelligent medical research energy into the central waterfront area. Moreover, the city is just north of major government health care apparatus’ from the FDA to the National Institutes of Health to Department of Defense research centers.

KaloCyte, which has already raised $6 million from investors and grants, report they are moving to land of “The Wire” to be adjacent to the National Institutes of Health and Defense Department as well as the University of Maryland campus, reported the Baltimore Sun.

The company founders are setting up a lab at the University of Maryland to conduct blood research not to mention fill academic positions from the University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland Baltimore County. For example, Dr. Allan Doctor, chief scientific officer of KaloCyte will also direct the new University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Blood Oxygen Transport & Hemostasis, or CBOTH. Moreover, Dipanjan Pan, KaloCyte’s chief technology officer and co-founder will become director of the nanofabrication core at CBOTH, a professor of radiology in the school of medicine and professor of chemical and biochemical and environmental engineering at UMBC, reports Meredith Cohn.

New Activity in and Near Baltimore

Deal activities are on the rise in Baltimore, including deals with a major public company and an international tech hub as reported by the Baltimore Business JournalOpen Maryland reminds us that Maryland is the place to be: the first to map the human genome; the first to develop a rapid test for Ebola; the first to create an FDA-approved blood test for colon cancer—all occurred in Maryland this the organization reports that this momentum is growing. Open Maryland reports that the region climbed to one of the top 10 biotech clusters in the United States. And within the “Capital Corridor” region Baltimore gains increasingly on its bigger partner city to the south.

Back to the Maryland BioPark

James Hughes, the University of Maryland chief economic development officer and vice president commented, “The company is another important healthcare startup joining the University of Maryland’s and Baltimore’s vibrant biotechnology community.” The list of tenants at the Maryland BioPark becomes larger and more dynamic by the year.  Right in the middle of the city, the 14-acre center on the west side of campus will boast 1.8 million square feet of lab and office space in 12 buildings plus parking, landscaped parks and the likes. The latest innovation space is THE GRID, which opened in January 2018.

The Edge we Miss in the Bay

This author, a San Franciscan, resided in Washington DC for a year many years ago.  I frequented Baltimore often as I had a few friends up there and became every more drawn into this fascinating place—with its small rolling hills, compact, classic row houses and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, broad leaf trees, and parks—a truly unique waterfront surrounded by historically significant neighborhoods, and of course interesting and eclectic stores and businesses peppered throughout the many walkable neighborhoods. People there are down to earth, confident and cool—in some cases tough and even over-confident—but not hubris like I find in my home town in a pervasive kind of way.

The downtown was just starting to gentrify back then when I was there in 2003 around the time they were filming The Wire—now that train has left the station and is in full gear as the waterfront property undoubtedly gets more desirable by the year. Riots aside the gentrification are coming.

Biotech Clusters Means Expenses Rise

In fact, a study has shown that from 2000 to 2013 that Baltimore experienced the fifth highest gentrification rates in the United States trailing only NYC, LA, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. The development boom has commenced and the velocity of the rate of change will depend on a number of factors—but undoubtedly, one of them will be its growing powerful biotech hub.

1 Comment

  1. Chris Frew

    Great article! We are all proud of the biotech industry and community surrounding it in Baltimore. As a note for future articles; the region has been branded the “Biohealth capital region’ and is currently ranked 4th among top 10 clusters.

    Here is an article on what’s happening across the region to fuel the cluster’s growth.

    We cover the biotech industry across the region so please let me know if we can ever help with future articles you are writing about companies in Baltimore and throughout the biohealth capital region.

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