NCBiotech Awards $2.4 Million in Quarter

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 33 loans and grants totaling $2,422,130 to companies, universities and other organizations across the state during the 2014-2015 fiscal year third quarter, which ended March 31.

The awards programs support life science research, entrepreneurship and technology commercialization, and lay the groundwork for major add-on funding.

The latest round of company loans includes:

$500,000 in two Small Business Research Loans (SRLs)

These loans fund research that advances small life science companies’ development of commercially viable technologies/products. They help companies reach specific and meaningful research milestones that position them to obtain additional funding from private and public sources. Recipients this quarter include:

Rheomics, now Redbud Labs, of Chapel Hill, which has developed technology that can manipulate fluids at the microscale, enabling better medical diagnostics, received $250,000 for a clinical pilot study of its coagulation diagnostic. The company will test its blood analyzer using more than 100 patient samples. These data will prepare the company for regulatory clearance later this year.

FLAG Therapeutics, of Raleigh, is an early stage oncology company focused on developing so-called bi-specific small-molecule therapies for cancer. This relatively new approach is called bi-specific because the therapies are capable of simultaneous binding to two different targets. Flag received $250,000 to scale up synthesis of its lead drug compound and conduct important safety studies in animal models.

On average, every dollar that NCBiotech loans to young life science companies is met with $118 in additional funding to those firms from disease philanthropy and government grants, angel and venture capital investment, and other financial support.

For the most recently ended quarter, the Center identified more than $39 million in outside funding raised by companies that previously received NCBiotech loans. Three of those raised $37.75 million of that total. They include:

G1 Therapeutics, which received a $250,000 SRL from NCBiotech in 2011 and a $250,000 Strategic Growth Loan in 2012, completed a $33 million Series B financing round. The Research Triangle Park company will use the proceeds to advance its lead drug candidate, G1T28, which inhibits two key enzymes and is currently being tested in clinical trials for its ability to inhibit tumor growth and for its ability to protect important cells in the bone marrow from chemotherapy-induced damage.  

Dignify Therapeutics, which received a $50,000 Company Inception Loan (CIL) in 2013 and a $250,000 SRL in 2014 from NCBiotech, raised $3.15 million in equity financing from venture and angel investors. The RTP company is developing a novel drug, DTI-100, to help people with spinal injuries, spina bifida and other neurological conditions clear their bladders and bowels quickly and on demand.

T3D Therapeutics, which received a $50,000 CIL from NCBiotech in June 2013, won a $1.8 million Small Business Innovation Research phase two grant from the National Institute on Aging, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. The RTP company will use the funds to advance its promising clinical-stage drug T3D-959 for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. T3D-959 has successfully completed phase one human clinical trials and demonstrated pre-clinical efficacy in an Alzheimer’s animal model. 

Other NCBiotech awards made in the most recent quarter include:

$6,000 in two Industrial Internships

NCBiotech partners with life science companies and non-profit organizations to provide spring and summer internships to undergraduates, graduate students and recent grads with a background in business and/or the life sciences.

Recipients this quarter were:

Lucerno Dynamics, of Raleigh, a medical device company dedicated to improving oncology patient outcomes, was awarded $3,000 to support the work of an intern to help it develop a business plan for its preclinical cancer research tool.

Gilero Biomedical, of RTP, a medical device design, development and manufacturing company specializing in single-use medical devices, was awarded $3,000 to support an intern to work on the engineering, testing and commercialization of new medical devices.

Every grant dollar NCBiotech provides to a university or nonprofit organization is met with an average $28 in additional funding. The most recent quarter’s grants included:

$1,828,228 in 13 Institutional Development Grants  

Institutional Development Grants provide research equipment or core facilities that serve multiple investigators. Research-extensive universities must have at least six investigators involved, and non-research-extensive universities must have at least three. Awards this quarter include:

  • $200,000 to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for an Intellicyt iQue Screener, enabling cancer and infectious disease researchers to measure quickly the susceptibility of harmful cells to potential therapeutic agents.
  • $72,500 to the North Carolina State University Center for Marine Sciences & Technology in Morehead City for a recycling system that will reduce by at least 90 percent the use of liquid helium and nitrogen in the imaging and spectroscopy magnet at the Marine Magnetic Resonance Facility.
  • $172,000 to Wake Forest University Health Sciences for a Leica Bond Rx immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization system that can localize specific proteins and nucleic acid sequences in tissue samples, critical  to delineating disease pathways and  discovering novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for the treatment of heart disease, cancer and infectious disease.
  • $150,363 to UNC-CH for a high-throughput, next-generation, whole-slide scanner, allowing researchers studying cancer and other diseases to conduct research with large numbers of tissue samples and to perform assays of DNA, RNA and proteins.
  • $151,971 to UNC-CH for the use of implanted radio-telemetry devices in genetically engineered mice to identify novel mechanisms that control blood pressure and cardiac rhythmicity. Such studies could lead to novel treatment approaches for hypertension.
  • $165,240 to UNC-CH for the acquisition of a ForteBio Octet Red384 System to help investigators measure antibody and protein quantitation, and monitor protein-protein and other bio-molecular interactions in drug-discovery research.
  • $200,000 to Duke University for an Echo 550 liquid handler to provide rapid and accurate nanoliter-volume liquid transfers, enabling high-throughput screening for the discovery of novel molecular probes and new drugs.
  • $50,797 to East Carolina University for an automated capillary Western System for precisely analyzing proteins involved in disease.
  • $135,232 to Duke University for a fluorescence and luminescence imaging instrument that can image live small animals, enhancing researchers’ ability to study radiation biology for therapeutic and radiation-safety applications.
  • $200,000 to NCSU for a NextSeq 500 DNA sequencer that will expedite research projects such as biofuel generation, pollution surveying and remediation, and agricultural crop improvement.
  • $200,000 to Campbell University for an EMXplus EPR spectrometry system, enabling studies of free radical (unstable) forms of atoms that are formed by inflammation and disease and that lead to tissue damage.
  • $47,750 to Western Carolina University for a Malvern ZetaSizer Nano ZS instrument that measures characteristics of molecules in solution, allowing chemists, biologists and forensic scientists to study protein interactions, cell uptake of nanoparticles and detection of trace evidence.
  • $82,375 to WFU Health Sciences for a DM100 magnetic hyperthermia system that will allow pre-clinical evaluation of magnetic nanoparticles that generate heat when exposed to magnetic fields. The equipment will help scientists evaluate hyperthermia as a treatment for cancer and bacterial infections.

As part of NCBiotech’s Bio Defense Initiative, a $5,000 Grantsmanship Training Grant to the UNC General Administration to help support UNC faculty attendance at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Conference in Hyattsville, Md.

A $30,000 Presidential Initiative Award went to First Flight Venture Center in RTP to help launch its Lift-Off Campaign, a comprehensive, individualized program to help startup companies obtain early-stage funding.

NCBiotech also awarded 14 Event Sponsorships and Meeting Grants during the quarter totaling $59,902. These programs are highlighted in this blog post by Deborah De, NCBiotech’s director of grant process operations.

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