MADISON – Stem Pharm Inc., a University of Wisconsin-Madison startup built on inventions related to the growth and control of stem cells, received a $290,000 grant Jan. 19 from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will support Stem Pharm’s continued development of sophisticated biological materials that can efficiently manufacture stem cells for medical use.

Stem Pharm’s custom materials support growing human cells to evaluate potential drugs or serve as replacement tissues for regenerative medicine. The company builds on research by founder William Murphy, a professor of biomedical engineering at UW-Madison.

Stem cells are highly versatile cells that have not yet specialized into adult cells, such as blood, muscle or nerve cells. Murphy focuses on finding better ways to direct stem cells to develop into adult cells and tissues.

This year, Stem Pharm plans to market systems that drug-makers can use to evaluate the safety and utility of drugs for treating blood vessels, liver and nerve tissue. Stem Pharm sells both biomaterial (which supports cell growth) and cells, depending on the market. Read the full story here.