NC Biotech Center awards $1.3 million in loans and grants

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 17 grants and loans totaling $1.3 million to universities, bioscience companies and nonprofits in the second quarter of its fiscal year.

The awards, presented in October, November and December 2021, will support life science research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina. The funding will also help universities and businesses attract follow-on funds from other sources.

Business loans

Four bioscience companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $1 million to advance research, product development and commercial viability.

  • SonoVol of Durham was awarded $250,000 to help commercialize a robotic ultrasound imaging instrument that allows researchers to navigate inside a living laboratory animal for “whole body” imaging.
  • Ideal medical technologies d’Asheville has received $250,000 to help fund two Phase 1 clinical trials of its FUSION medical device, designed to control blood sugar in critically ill patients with diabetes.
  • NeuroGT from Durham was awarded $250,000 to develop a gene therapy candidate for the treatment of mucopolysaccharidosis IIIB, also known as Sanfilippo syndrome type B, a lysosomal storage disorder that results in severe progressive neurological disease.
  • Clarus Organic Products of Chapel Hill was awarded $250,000 to develop a genetically modified RNA alphavirus as a vaccine adjuvant to enhance immune response.

Portfolio companies raise $26.8 million

Six bioscience companies that had previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised more than $26.8 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the second quarter, according to a study conducted by staff at the Biotech Center’s Life Science Intelligence. .

Almost half of this amount was Cellular microsystems, which has raised over $12.6 million in venture capital. The Durham-based company provides research tools that allow scientists to image, identify and isolate viable single cells and clonal colonies.

Three other Durham-based companies that entered into venture capital deals were CivaTech Oncology$7.9 million; IMMvention Therapeutix, nearly $3 million; and Panaceuticals$2 million.

As well, InnAVasc Medical of Durham raised $1 million in debt financing, and Tellus Therapeutic of Research Triangle Park received a $182,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

University scholarships

Four universities and one non-profit organization received grants totaling $310,040 in the second quarter to advance bioscience research. The awards were given through two programs: FLASH Grants, that support creative ideas that show early indications of commercial potential, and Translational Research Grantsthat fund projects that explore potential commercial applications or initiate the early commercial development of academic inventions in the life sciences.

North Carolina State University (NC State) has been awarded a $110,000 translational research grant to test a new production process that could reduce the high cost of making plasmid DNA, a critical component in making gene therapies and mRNA vaccines.

Eleven FLASH grants totaling $200,040 were awarded:

  • East Carolina University received $19,195 to develop a model of Black Gill parasitic infection of wild shrimp.
  • NC State received $13,197 to optimize next-generation DNA sequencing analysis for the diagnosis of viral tumor diseases in chickens.
  • NC State received $20,000 to develop new technology that will allow breeders to introduce new traits into sweet potatoes to accelerate crop improvement. The knowledge and technology derived from this work could be applied to other economically important crops.
  • NC State was awarded $20,000 to demonstrate the utility of a rapid, high-throughput fluorescent approach to assess the toxicity of PFAS compounds, which are widely used to manufacture consumer and industrial products.
  • NC State received $17,000 to research the application of tobacco in the control of internal parasites in turkeys and the reduction of pathogens in poultry litter.
  • NC State received $12,477 to identify microbes that can improve the production of protein-rich animal and fish foods, significantly reducing land use, freshwater consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse associated with traditional agricultural and aquaculture practices.
  • NC State received $20,000 to optimize blueberry tissue culture methods and identify the most efficient transformation methods to regenerate and develop new blueberry cultivars.
  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte was awarded $20,000 to uncover key mechanisms underlying the symbiotic relationship between corals and dinoflagellate algae, providing valuable information for coral reef restoration efforts.
  • The University of North Carolina at Wilmington has received $19,430 to develop transgenic corals, which have the potential to revolutionize the restoration of coral reefs, which are in decline due to multiple threats.
  • UNC Wilmington has received $19,300 to develop a new, non-toxic, naturally occurring therapeutic agent for equine encephalitis virus infections, which currently have no specific treatment.
  • the American Chestnut Foundation, based in Asheville, was awarded $19,441 to compare the genetic diversity of wild and current breeding populations of American chestnut trees, which were decimated by a fungal blight a century ago. Breeding a genetically modified blight-resistant tree with wild trees could allow the blight-resistant population to adapt to a changing climate.

Event grant

A non-profit organization, the North Carolina Academy of Sciencesbased in Raleigh, received $3,000 Sponsorship of biotechnology events grant for its annual meeting, which promotes the collaboration and professional development of student scientists and professional researchers in the biological sciences and beyond. Undergraduates, graduate students, and senior scientists will share their research through symposia and poster sessions as well as discussions of scientifically sound solutions to relevant problems.

(C) NC Biotechnology Center

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