Primorigen Biosciences, 510 Charmany Dr., is getting a $344,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant for a project with the Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee. Primorigen makes products to help companies grow stem cells and turn them into specific types of stem cells.

The Medical College researchers are working to transform adult stem cells into nerve cells, with the ultimate goal of treating disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and spinal cord injury.

Primorigen’s technology “lets the cells grow more quickly,” chief executive Chuck Oehler said.

Arshak Alexanian, associate professor of neurosurgery at the Medical College, has transformed human stem cells taken from adult bone marrow into nerve cells. When the cells were transplanted into injured rats, they improved recovery, the Medical College said. Primorigen’s technology is expected to help the modified cells multiply rapidly and more closely mimic the properties of actual nerve cells.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.