N.C. Biotechnology Center Awards $1 Million in Latest Quarter
By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 17 grants and loans totaling $1,060,352 to companies, universities and nonprofit organizations across the state during the first quarter of its 2016-2017 fiscal year ending September 30.
Four bioscience companies each received a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan to support applied research for the development of products, processes or tools with clear commercial potential:
- InnAVasc Medical of Durham is developing a safer and more accessible arteriovenous graft, an indirect connection between an artery and vein, for use by people with kidney failure who must undergo the blood cleansing procedure called hemodialysis.
- 410 Medical Innovation of Durham is developing a new device for rapid infusion of blood and blood products for hospital, transport and military healthcare providers.
- UVision360 of Research Triangle Park is developing a hysteroscopy system for the performance of office-based gynecological diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
- EpiCypher of Research Triangle Park is developing tools for the field of epigenetics research, which examines biological processes that switch genes on and off in response to environment, disease, and other factors.
Company Follow-on Funding
The first quarter was a strong period for follow-on funding for companies that have received prior loans from the Biotechnology Center.
Fourteen NCBiotech portfolio companies collectively received $15.8 million in federal grants for their product research and development.
Two other companies, both based in Morrisville, raised $13.5 million from other sources:
- Humacyte, a regenerative medicine company, received $10 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to support a clinical trial of a bioengineered vascular tissue that can be implanted in the arms of kidney-disease patients undergoing hemodialysis.
- Lucerno Dynamics raised $3.5 million in equity financing to support its development of noninvasive sensor technology for use when patients undergo diagnostic tests commonly known as PET scans. Lucerno seeks to measure the effectiveness of the process used for injecting small amounts of radioactive materials called radiotracers. Errors in the tracer injections can produce unreliable PET scan results. These can result in the need for repeat scans and/or the potential for missed diagnoses of diseases such as cancer.
Other NCBiotech Awards
Eight organizations received Biotechnology Event Sponsorships during the quarter. The awards provide up to $3,000 to support statewide events that advance the understanding or application of biotechnology for the benefit of North Carolina.
- The N.C. Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR) received $3,000 for its fifth annual Bridging the Gap conference aimed at strengthening K-16 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education throughout North Carolina.
- The Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative received $1,000 for the summit Community Engaged Research and Citizen Science: Advancing Environmental Public Health to Meet the Needs of Our Communities. The summit will acknowledge the successful projects and approaches, reflect on past recommendations, identify new opportunities, and consider the application of citizen science in the context of environmental health disparities and additional dimensions.
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $3,000 for its annual Neuroscience Center Symposium, which brings in the world's best neuroscientists to expose North Carolina’s research community to cutting-edge neuroscience ideas.
- North Carolina State University’s Molecular Biotechnology Training Program received $3,000 for its annual Molecular Biotechnology Research Symposium, which presents current research by students and researchers in a wide variety of fields related to molecular biotechnology.
- UNC-CH received $3,000 to host the annual meeting of the North Carolina Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society, which showcases scientific developments in North Carolina and provides networking opportunities for businesses, scientists, academic educators, students and the public.
- East Carolina University received $1,171 for the 18th annual Neuroscience Research Day, which brings together students and the area’s neuroscience research community to share research and ideas.
- Duke University Medical Center received $3,000 for the Duke Regeneration Next Initiative Annual Retreat, which convenes faculty, trainees and staff from Duke and surrounding institutions to advance education, discovery science, translational research and development of therapies in developmental and regeneration biology and regenerative medicine.
- UNC-CH received $3,000 for the sixth annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium, which will host Nobel Laureate Brian Kobilka, M.D., who will speak, share inspiring stories and highlight critical experiences that led to his successes. He shared the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Duke’s Robert Lefkowitz, M.D.
Five organizations received Biotechnology Meeting Grants, which provide up to $10,000 to support national and/or international meetings that advance the understanding or application of biotechnology and focus national and international attention on North Carolina’s scientific community.
- NCSU’s Genetic Engineering & Society Center received $9,969 for the international workshop Environmental Release of Engineered Pests: Building an International Governance Framework. There has been rapid progress in only the last two years on developing biotechnologies (such as CRISPR) to permanently eliminate entire pest populations. The workshop will investigate frameworks for global governance of these new biotechnologies.
- UNC Charlotte received $10,000 for the 28th annual meeting of the International Society for Ceramics in Medicine (Bioceramics 28), which has four goals: present trends in studies of bioceramics 3D printing; facilitate sharing scientific understanding on the formation and consequences of surface coating and characterization; discuss case studies related to clinical applications of load bearing and non-load bearing bioceramics; and identify and address the industrial needs/applications related to bioceramics.
- The NCABR received $8,500 for the national 3Rs Sharing Conference V, which will address the reduction of pain and distress in laboratory animal research and alternatives and methods for the reduction, refinement and replacement of animal models in biotechnology/biomedical research.
- NCSU’s Center for Marine Sciences & Technology received $4,712 for the second North Carolina Marine Biotechnology and Seafood Symposium, which addresses supply of sustainable and safe seafoods worldwide. Topics will include global supply trends, seafood safety and security, biotechnology and aquaculture and full resource utilization.
- Wake Forest University Health Sciences received $7,000 for the annual Conference of the International Society for Biofabrication, which promotes scientific exchange and fosters closer networks and collaborative ties in the field of biofabrication and advanced biomanufacturing research.