NCBiotech Awards $1.8M in Grants, Loans in Latest Quarter

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 48 grants and loans totaling nearly $1.8 million to universities, bioscience companies and other entities in the third quarter of its fiscal year.

The awards, made in January, February and March, support life sciences research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina. The funding also helps universities and companies attract follow-on funding from other sources.

Company loans

Three bioscience companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $550,000 to advance their research, product development and commercial viability.

  • Alacrity Medical Innovations of Chapel Hill received $100,000 to complete prototype development and prepare for an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a disposable, drug-device combination product that treats mild to moderate bleeding in patients being treated with anticoagulants. 
  • Continuous Precision Medicine of Research Triangle Park received $200,000 to support a pilot study with the N.C. Veterans Administration Medical Center of a novel comprehensive software platform to monitor for and prevent opioid misuse and abuse. 
  • InSoma Bio of Durham received $250,000 to fund manufacturing scale-up and Investigational Device Exemption-enabling studies for a biopolymer that helps plastic surgeons rebuild fat for reconstructive surgery.

Portfolio companies raise $43.5M

Eleven biosciences companies that previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised about $43.5 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the third quarter, according to research by the Biotech Center’s Life Science Intelligence staff.

Accounting for more than half of that amount was Durham-based Ribometrix, which formed a strategic collaboration with Genentech to discover and develop novel RNA-targeted small molecule therapeutics. Ribometrix received a $25 million upfront payment and is eligible for potential milestone payments exceeding $1 billion.

T3D Therapeutics of Research Triangle Park and Deep Blue Medical Advances of Durham each raised more than $5 million. T3D received a $5.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a Phase 2 clinical trial of a drug for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Deep Blue, which has developed a mesh medical device for repairing hernias, raised more than $5 million in venture capital.

Economic Development Awards

Two counties received Economic Development Awards totaling $240,000 to support expansions and improvements at company biomanufacturing sites.

  • Durham County received $200,000 to support the purchase of equipment to minimize the carbon footprint of bluebird bio’s Durham manufacturing site, as well as the development of virtual courses to share with local high school students.
  • Scotland County received $40,000 to enable Huvepharma to purchase equipment to expand the capacity of its animal vaccine manufacturing site. Additionally, the grant will support leadership training for employees as the site grows.

University grants

Seven universities received 12 grants totaling $901,168 during the third quarter to advance bioscience research. 

The awards were given through three programs: FLASH Grants, which support creative ideas that show early indications of commercial potential; Translational Research Grants, which fund projects that explore potential commercial applications or initiate the early commercial development of university-held life sciences inventions; and Innovation Impact Grants, which support the purchase of research equipment for core facilities, fostering innovation. 

Universities received five FLASH Grants totaling $87,880:

  • Duke University received $20,000 to develop a technology that conveniently and reliably conducts daily surveillance for COVID-19 among a building’s residents through wastewater analysis.
  • Duke received $20,000 to develop machine learning computational methods to detect relationships between bacterial metabolites and human proteins for personalized medicine applications.
  • Duke Medical Center received $11,680 to study the role of gut bacteria in the development of Alzheimer's disease.
  • North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University received $19,750 to develop a sensitive, portable system to detect and measure SARS-CoV-2 spike protein levels and provide binding characteristics of the ACE2 protein for rapid analysis of wastewater and other fluid samples.
  • UNC Charlotte received $16,450 to develop new or improved low-cost methods of sampling wastewater for the testing, tracking, and monitoring of Covid-19.

Universities received two Translational Research Grants totaling $214,045:

  • North Carolina Central University received $104,111 to develop a new hydrogel therapy to treat uterine fibroids. 
  • North Carolina State University received $109,934 for the preclinical development of a new RNA origami-based anticoagulant and its antidote pair.

Universities received five Innovation Impact Grants totaling $599,243:

  • Duke Medical Center received $150,000 to buy equipment in the Center for In vivo Microscopy to enable magnetic resonance histology of research animals, yielding images for precise mapping of the brain and for better understanding of diseases.
  • N.C. A&T received $35,560 to buy equipment for a life science computing server that will advance next-generation sequencing, bacterial resistance, and protein structure and function research, linking several research core facilities at the university.
  • NCSU received $150,000 to buy a system for precise control of growing conditions in the growth chambers and air-conditioned greenhouses in its phytotron facility, which serves researchers from multiple departments at NCSU and from other North Carolina universities and companies.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $150,000 to buy an advanced robotic platform as the cornerstone of a new CRISPR screening facility that will use novel genetic technology to study the functions of human genes and help develop new drugs and other treatments for disease.
  • Wake Forest University received $113,683 to buy instrumentation for the structural biology core facility, allowing researchers to study the atomic structure of proteins, nucleic acids, drugs and their interactions.

Event and meeting grants

Two universities received grants totaling $21,268 to sponsor regional events or national meetings in the life sciences.

  • UNC-CH received $8,268 for an annual workshop-style short course in nutrigenetics, nutrigenomics and precision nutrition for students, postdocs, basic scientists, translational researchers, industry researchers and clinicians to enhance understanding, deepen knowledge, and foster interactions and networking.
  • UNC-CH received $3,000 for an annual showcase for UNC/NC State biomedical engineering senior design and graduate students to present projects related to rehabilitation, biological process, medical textiles, imaging, medical device engineering and more.
  • Wake Forest University Health Sciences received $10,000 for the Regenerative Medicine Essentials Course and World Stem Cell Summit meeting, a virtual online program providing attendees a solid foundation in regenerative medicine along with emphasis on new developments and applications.

Industrial Internships

Twenty-eight Industrial Internship Program grants for $3,000 each, totaling $84,000, were made to 27 companies to sponsor industrial internships for undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates in business administration or the life sciences.

Recipients were Higgs Boson of Durham, Innatrix of Durham, Clinispan Health of Charlotte, Alacrity Medical Innovations of Chapel Hill, PRA Health Sciences of Raleigh, BioAesthetics Corporation of Research Triangle Park, inSoma Bio of Durham, Isolere Bio of Durham, Artiam Bio of Morrisville, Atom Bioworks of Cary, Lindy Biosciences of Durham, Chiesi USA of Cary, Cohesion Phenomics of Spindale, NabGen of Durham, Locus Biosciences of Morrisville, SoilMetrix of Durham, Bear Fiber of Wilmington, InGateyGen of Elizabeth City, Triangle Biotechnology of Chapel Hill, Avazyme of Durham, Epigenos Biosciences of Greenville, CertiRx Corporation of Research Triangle Park, Kalia Health of Chapel Hill, Mimetics of Durham, CasTag Biosciences of Durham, Tellus Therapeutics of Hillsborough and NuPulseCV of Raleigh.

Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
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