BioNexus KC Awards $150k to Scientists Studying Childhood Diseases

BioNexus KC Awards $150k to Scientists Studying Childhood Diseases

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2019

KANSAS CITY, MO – BioNexus KC has awarded $150,000 to three area investigators to support research focused on genetic diseases affecting children. The funds to support the projects are provided by the Paul Patton Trust, Ted C. McCarter, William Evans, Jr., and Bank of America, N.A. Trustees.

“Our partnership with the Paul Patton Charitable Trust and Bank of America has allowed us to fund crucial pediatric research for over ten years,” said Dr. Keith Gary, Vice President of BioNexus KC. “The funding supports new approaches to finding cures for genetic diseases that primarily impact children.”

Below are this year’s grant recipients and a brief description of their research programs.

Krabbe Disease
Krabbe disease is an inherited disorder that destroys myelin, which is required for proper nerve cell function in the brain and throughout the nervous system. Signs and symptoms typically include irritability, muscle weakness, feeding difficulties, and delayed mental and physical development. Because of the severity of the condition, individuals with Krabbe disease usually do not survive beyond the age of 3.

Dr. Steven LeVine from the University of Kansas Medical Center and his team will test the ability of a candidate drug to lessen disease activity in preclinical studies using mice. It is believed that this drug has the potential to benefit patients with Krabbe’s disease in two ways: 1) reduce disease activity, and 2) enabling improved bone growth.

Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) impacts one of 400 African Americans each year. Over time, sickle cell disease can lead to complications such as infections, delayed growth, episodes of pain, and stroke.

SCD is caused by a mutation in the coding sequence of a specific adult gene. Kenneth Peterson from the University of Kansas Medical Center and his team will use mouse models to understand the effects of this gene mutation and identify novel therapeutic drugs to treat SCD. Current drugs are non-specific and may affect other cells and organs. The long-term goal for this study is to be able to correct the gene mutation and effectively treat SCD without side effects.

Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a lifelong condition that increases risk of death and disability for those affected. CKD in both pediatric and adult patients is increasing. Yet, few treatments have effectively slowed chronic kidney disease progression.

Laurel Willig from Children’s Mercy and her team will study how genetic changes play a roll in the development and progression of this disease. They will use a noninvasive method to study whole gemone DNA changes which will hopefully offer new opportunities for the development of advanced therapies.

The BioNexus KC grant program has awarded 108 grants totaling $5 million since the program launched in 2002. The intent of the grant program is to better position researchers to compete for larger federal grants. For every grant dollar awarded by BioNexus KC, $11.70 returns to the region in from federal agencies. The total return on investment currently stands at $58.9 M and it continues to grow.

Information about the Patton Trust Research Development Grants, including eligibility, review criteria and application procedures, can be found on the BioNexus KC website.


About BioNexus KC:
Through its Research Development Grants program, BioNexus KC manages a variety of individual grants for area corporations and trusts, helping them identify proposals with the best scientific, medical and technical merit.  Research grants are awarded to generate initial results and stimulate the submission of major multidisciplinary research proposals to government or private agencies. BioNexus KC’s Research Development Grants program includes proposal review, evaluation by subject matter experts, written reviews for all applicants, and post-award management.

Media Inquiries:
Dr. Keith Gary
BioNexus KC – Vice President

Shaylee Yount
BioNexus KC – Communications and Events Manager