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KeraNetics Gets $3.3M Fed Grant to Fix Nuke Burns

Fast-growing Winston-Salem therapeutics developer KeraNetics has landed a $3.3 million federal contract to help commercialize a gel for treating nuclear radiation burns.

KeraNetics, formed in 2008 as a spinout from Wake Forest University Health Sciences, specializes in converting purified keratin proteins, the key structural material of human nails and hair, into medical products.

This grant from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is just the latest in a series of federal contracts for KeraNetics.

This pact is for continued development of the company’s KeraStat Burn Gel, a unique keratin-based product to prevent cell and tissue damage after exposure to ionizing radiation that could occur after a terrorist attack or an accident at a nuclear power plant.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded KeraNetics a $150,000 Small Business Research Loan in 2010. The company is also participating in NCBiotech’s Industrial Fellowship Program, sharing costs for postdoctoral researcher Erin Falco, Ph.D., to work two years as a scientist at the company and learn the ropes of industrial research.

The company is getting ready to build a manufacturing facility in Kannapolis, about 50 miles southwest of KeraNetics headquarters. There it will continue to extract and purify the active ingredients in keratin for use in its products. It also plans to begin commercialization of its current portfolio of products while inventing new ones.

“The work being conducted here could result in treatment options that could redefine the standard of care for radiation disasters and emergencies,” said Luke Burnett, Ph.D., chief science officer at KeraNetics.

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