An agreement between the West Virginia University Research Corporation and Protea Biosciences Inc. of Morgantown to develop and commercialize discoveries made in WVU s Core Proteomics Laboratory could produce 120 jobs over the next three years, officials say.


The partnership, which came about last November, was mentioned during Gov. Bob Wises State of the State speech Wednesday (Jan. 9).


“This enterprise, because of the vision and entrepreneurship of the people who formed it, is leading West Virginia into a whole new era of high-paying jobs,”Wise said.


Proteomics, a new area of biotechnology research, is an advanced technology that rapidly identifies proteins in human cellsestimated to number 500,000 to 1 millionproviding new potential targets for drug development in cancer and other human disease.


The laboratory, based at the WVUHealthSciencesCenter, will include instrumentation such as mass spectometry and two-dimension gel electrophoresis.


“Our mission is to build a leading proteomics business by advancing WVU s microfluids and cell signaling technology,”said Stephen Turner, chairman& CEO of Protea Biosciences.”We want to apply it to the discovery of novel protein targets to be used in the development of new pharmaceuticals and improved ways to manage disease, such as cancer.”


Turner was recognized publicly during the speech by the Governor, who called him the”leader of West Virginias biotech revolution.”


The company is starting with a staff of about 12, Turner said, but hopes to create about 120 jobs in a new biotechnology incubator within three years.


“I am convinced that within three years our company will be the first of an emerging, robust group of West Virginia-based biotechnology companies, and that within 10 years, West Virginia will be acknowledged internationally as an important center for biotechnology,”Turner said.


John Weete, president of the WVURC , said the expertise of WVU researchers will not only benefit the company, but the community as well.


“Not only does our partnership provide for substantial investment by the company for WVU -based biomedical research, but it also works to build the first Morgantown-based biotechnology company, assuring that the fruits of our investments will benefit our local economy and laying the foundation for the creation of new, high-value jobs in our community,”Weete said.