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Challenge Seeks Endothelial Progenitor Cell Culture Process

Blood bag (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

A new challenge on InnoCentive is seeking a technique for storing and growing endothelial progenitor cells captured from blood samples and vital for research on and testing for various disorders. The competition has a purse of $25,000 and a deadline of 5 January 2014 for submissions.

InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts conducts open-innovation, crowd-sourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors, in this case the Cleveland Clinic. InnoCentive calls this kind of competition a “theoretical challenge” that requires the entrant to propose implementation of an idea, but one that need not yet be a proven concept.

Endothelial progenitor cells are precursor cells made in bone marrow that circulate through the bloodstream and can develop into blood vessel tissue. Impaired development or functioning of endothelial cells contributes to a number of diseases, including pulmonary arterial hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The sponsor, Cleveland Clinic, is particularly interested in finding better ways of storing and growing endothelial progenitor cells, which when taken from blood or tissue samples today, must today be plated and processed within two hours. This tight time constraint severely restricts the number of patients available to provide these cells for research and testing.

Cleveland Clinic is looking for solutions that can extend the shelf life of endothelial progenitor cells in blood, so samples can be shipped overnight for processing the next day. The clinic plans to apply the solution to its research on pulmonary arterial hypertension, a chronic and incurable disease that abnormally constricts arteries that carry blood to the lungs, leading to increased blood pressure and extra strain on the heart.

Contestants need to prepare a written proposal for this challenge that can be an early stage idea — before the concept is proven — but still able to be implemented. In a theoretical challenge, says InnoCentive, the sponsor is looking for detailed descriptions and specifications that bring the idea closer to an actual product or service.

To receive an award in this challenge, winning contestants will be required to transfer to Cleveland Clinic exclusive intellectual property rights to their solutions. For winning participants who cannot transfer exclusive intellectual property rights, the sponsor will consider partial awards.

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