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    The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the United States' medical research agency, has granted the Kalamazoo based firm NanoVir a five-year, $1.8 million dollar research project grant to research new antiviral drug treatments. NanoVir is a relatively young firm that has spent the last seven years committed to finding treatments for HPV (human papillomavirus), a leading cause of abnormal pap smears and cervical cancer.

    . NanoVir has been successful in securing three previous NIH grants, including a $1 million allocation in 2007 and a $3 million grant in 2008. Co-founder and Director of Biology Chris Fisher stated, "The fact that we've competed so successfully for a variety o NIH grants over the last six years is testimony to the potential high impact of our science and the quality of our research team". This potential is not only positive for NanoVir, but for the City of Kalamazoo.

    NanoVir's continued research will make a major impact not only on medical care and scientific understanding of human disease - but also on the struggling regional economy. Every dollar of funding brought in by NanoVir has an economic ripple effect through local spending. NanoVir operates out of a biology-testing facility at Western Michigan University (WMU). Spending by the scientists, staff and students whose salaries and research activities are funded by the grants all have an effect on the local economy, as well as the purchase of supplies and extra services provided by WMU and others who keep laboratories running. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the City of Kalamazoo currently has an unemployment rate of 11.7%. A rise in jobs and revenue as a result of NanoVir's success would be a much needed boost to the local economy.

    Another advantage to NanoVir's success with NIH is the more obvious potential to find successful treatments against cancer-causing forms of HPV. According to www.HPVInfo.com, HPV Types 16 & 18 cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases, 70% of vaginal cancer cases, and up to 50% of vulvar cancer cases in females. These staggering statistics have the potential to be lowered or eradicated all together with the success of NanoVir's research.

    The continued support of NIH shows that NanoVir is making great strides in their research to eliminate HPV. With continued support, NanoVir has the potential to make an impact both locally and globally by stimulating the local struggling local economy and eliminating a deadly disease.

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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    Meet your Policy Fellow: Leah Brynaert

    Leah Brynaert is Health Care Fellow & Correspondent for the Michigan Policy Network. She is a first-year student in Lyman Briggs College at MSU.