NCBiotech awards $2.7 million in grants, loans in latest quarter

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 71 grants and loans totaling $2,757,090 to universities, bioscience companies and non-profit organizations in the third quarter of its fiscal year.

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

Company loans

Seven bioscience companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $1,750,000 to advance their research, product development, commercial viability and funding efforts.

  • Cytex Therapeutics (now doing business as CytexOrtho) of Durham received $350,000 for first-in-human clinical studies of a novel biphasic implant designed to repair lesions in the hip joint for patients who are too young or active for total hip replacements.
  • SonoVascular of Chapel Hill received $350,000 for first-in-human clinical studies of a novel, pharmaco-mechanical SonoThrombectomy™ intravascular system to treat venous thromboembolism, or blood clots.
  • AccuNovo Biotechnologies of Chapel Hill received $250,000 for development of a pair of targeted precision radiopharmaceuticals that allow for diagnosis, therapy and post-treatment assessment of prostate cancer patients, especially those who do not express prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) or do not respond to PSMA-based treatments.
  • Calidar of Durham received $250,000 to conduct a first-in-human study of a 4D Mammography technology that uses X-ray diffraction for imaging breast cancer.
  • Sable Fermentation of Durham received $200,000 to fund a biomanufacturing plant that was designed to scale fermentation of biotechnology products from lab to commercial levels.
  • Hedros Biotechnology of Raleigh received $200,000 to support commercialization of a bacteriophage-based anti-microbial product for disease control in food-animal production, targeting antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.
  • OpiAID of Wilmington received $150,000 to deploy a solution that provides timely and actionable data to support clinical decision making for improved outcomes in people being treated for substance use disorder.

Company follow-on funding

Six bioscience companies that previously received loans from NCBiotech raised more than $7 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the third quarter, according to research by the NCBiotech’s Life Science Intelligence staff.

Leading the way was Research Triangle Park-based EpiCypher, which won four research grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling nearly $3.5 million. The company, a pioneer in epigenetics and chromatin biology, provides technologies and services for research and epigenomics-based drug development.

Industrial Internships

Forty-eight companies and NCBiotech each received $4,000 grants totaling $196,000 from the Industrial Internship Program.

The program provides internship opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates in business administration or the life sciences. These internships provide real-world work experience that helps students transition to careers in North Carolina's life sciences sector while participating companies gain valuable assistance with a broad range of product and business development activities.

The participating companies are: Plakous Therapeutics, 410 Medical, Higgs Boson Health, SelSym Biotech, FreeFlow Medical Devices, Boundless Science, Isosceles Pharmaceuticals, Lindy Biosciences, Nova Thin Film Pharmaceuticals, Innatrix, Kalia Health, Portrett Pharmaceuticals, PhotoCide Protection, Lumedica, Mimetics, Avazyme, Brinter, PhotoniCare, Mammae Biosciences, Renaissance Fiber, Quadridox, DNAli Data Technologies, Divergene, BioAesthetics, Biolink Life Sciences Carolinas, Belhaven Biopharma, CMP Pharma, Vizma Life Sciences, InGateyGen, BioCytics, Sparta Biomedical, Raleigh Biosciences, Artiam Bio, Sable Fermentation, IMMvention Therapeutix, Gradient Medical, Lucerno Dynamics, Epigenos Biosciences, Helixomer, Quality Chemical Laboratories, NuPulseCV, SeaTox Research, Assure Medical Technologies, SonoVascular, Vetta Solutions, Mycorrhiza Biotech, Advanced Animal Diagnostics and Cosmic Eats.

Partnership Development Grant

The Wilson Economic Development Council received a $100,000 Partnership Development Grant to purchase key equipment enabling local training partners to better support cultivated-meat research and development, and to train students and future employees in the field. Believer Meats plans to create 100 new jobs and invest $123 million in Wilson to establish a cultivated-meat facility.

University grants

Seven universities received FLASH Grants totaling $176,611. These grants support creative ideas that show early indications of commercial potential.

  • Campbell University received $12,477 to develop genetically optimized black soldier flies to be used as a supplement to enhance animal feed.
  • East Carolina University received $27,500 to refine a small laboratory-scale wind tunnel for assessing the efficacy of insecticide formulated products.
  • High Point University received $27,500 to research the use of artemisinins as a novel therapy for the clinical management of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors.
  • University of North Carolina Charlotte received $26,780 to develop methods of detecting human antibodies to viral pathogens such as SARS-Co-V2 in wastewater.
  • University of North Carolina Greensboro received $27,500 to engineer osteoclasts to enhance antigen presentation while reducing bone resorption as a novel therapeutic against ER+ breast cancer bone metastasis.
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington received $27,452 to investigate novel brain-targeting GLP1R agonists for stroke treatment.
  • Wake Forest University received $27,402 to investigate a new strategy to prevent re-occlusion of stented or balloon angioplasty-opened arteries.

Three universities received Innovation Impact Grants totaling $311,534. These grants support the purchase of research equipment for core facilities at academic or nonprofit institutions, fostering innovation within North Carolina’s life sciences ecosystem.  

  • Fayetteville State University received $107,483 to purchase a cell-imaging system and genetic analyzer, dramatically enhancing the capacity for microscopy studies and gene-sequencing work.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $66,001 to upgrade the existing liquid handler in the Next Generation Sequencing Facility to a state-of-the-art sample prep workstation. This upgrade will streamline and automate experimental steps, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing human errors.
  • UNC Wilmington received $138,050 to support the purchase of equipment to establish a Chemistry Biotech Hub for synthesis, purification and testing of peptides with diverse functions related to human health.

Two universities received Translational Research Grants totaling $219,745. These grants fund projects that explore commercial applications or initiate the early commercial development of university-held life sciences inventions.

  • Duke University received $109,745 to develop new optical hardware and image analysis software to create digital whole-slide images of pathology and hematology samples for diagnostic applications.
  • UNC received $110,000 to demonstrate proof-of-concept and feasibility of a novel wearable sensing technology to detect and measure physical forces during walking to monitor progression of knee osteoarthritis.

Biotechnology Event Sponsorships

One university and one non-profit organization received Biotechnology Event Sponsorships totaling $3,200. These grants provide up to $3,000 to support life sciences-focused events held primarily for a North Carolina audience.  

  • ECU received $1,600 to support the 5th Annual Spring Pharma Conference, focused on current pharmaceutical industry topics for early-career professionals and advanced topics for seasoned industry professionals.
  • The North Carolina Academy of Science received $1,600 to support its annual meeting, which fosters collaboration and professional growth for both student scientists and seasoned researchers in the biological sciences through poster sessions and dialogues centered on scientifically sound approaches to pertinent issues.
Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
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