NCBiotech News

We work hard to bring you news about North Carolina’s wide-ranging life sciences community. Please feel free to share it with others. And let us know if you have something we should know about.

Asensus Surgical

Asensus Surgical is turning to technology giant Nvidia to accelerate the development of its digital tools that give surgeons more insights in the operating room and beyond.

Informing Innovation 2023

On September 20, librarians, business development professionals, consultants, and students gathered at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s headquarters for its Informing Innovation 2023 conference. 

Led by NCBiotech’s team, the day-long event provided attendees with the latest information on life sciences resources, search strategies, and copyright and research basics, among others. One hot topic was artificial intelligence (AI), which was top of mind for many attendees.  

Kriya Therapeutics Inc., with dual headquarters in Durham and Palo Alto, Calif., has acquired a gene therapy startup that Kriya says will align with its approach to treating metabolic disease.

The AgTech Innovation Alliance, an agricultural innovation network spearheaded by California-based nonprofit AgStart, has won a $150,000 Small Business Administration award that includes funds to boost North Carolina’s growing ag tech industry.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is participating as one of the alliance’s eight regional partners in receiving the award. NCBiotech - the only partner on the East Coast - will receive $10,000 over two years to support and promote innovation in crop science, animal health, food tech and precision agriculture.

Dignify Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical and medical device development company in Research Triangle Park focused on restoring bowel and bladder control for elderly and neurologically impaired people, has added a new compound to its product pipeline.

The company has signed an in-licensing agreement with Aayam Therapeutics of San Jose, Calif., to develop Aayam’s ATX-003, a compound for on-demand defecation, and related proprietary molecules.  

TARGAN, Inc., a biotechnology systems and animal ag-tech company dedicated to improving agriculture through targeted applications of cutting-edge technologies, celebrated the official opening of its new Raleigh-based headquarters. TARGAN is the first company of its kind to be based in the Raleigh city limits.

The event not only marked a significant milestone for TARGAN but also brought attention to the region’s ongoing growth in the life sciences industry.

North Carolina is home to some of the world’s leading life sciences companies, renowned research universities, and workforce development programs to support growing demand for STEM-trained employees. North Carolina State University’s latest project, the Integrative Sciences Initiative and Building, highlights a key strength of the state’s life sciences ecosystem: an understanding of the convergence of disciplines at the heart of life sciences innovation.

Durham-based Levee Medical has gotten additional financial backing for its first product to improve patient outcomes after prostate surgery.  

The medical device startup announced that it has raised $4.3 million in oversubscribed funds that will be used to advance its Voro Urologic Scaffold. The investigational product is currently the only bioabsorbable implant to treat urinary incontinence following the surgical removal of the prostate gland.  

Biofidelity, a British genomic technology company with U.S. headquarters in Morrisville, has commercially launched a novel assay to guide the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer in U.S. patients.

The assay, called ASPYRE-Lung, simplifies and accelerates the detection of biomarkers for lung cancer, enabling clinicians to determine which treatment is best for each patient at a lower cost than current RNA and DNA sequencing tests, and in days instead of weeks, the company said in a news release.

Cell Microsystems recently announced its acquisition of Oakland, California-based Fluxion Biosciences, a developer of automated patch clamp technology and cell-based assay tools. The Durham-based company acquired Fluxion to complement its CellRaft technology for cell biology research.

Zoetis celebrated Thursday the official opening of its new 78,000-square-foot building in Durham dedicated to diagnostics and biodevices research and development (R&D) to meet the needs of veterinarians, livestock farmers and pet owners.

North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders and State Rep. Zack Hawkins joined Zoetis CEO Kristin Peck and other company officials and employees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the new facility. North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences also had representatives at the event.

Biopesticide startup Innatrix is on a quest to develop environmentally friendly products to control crop diseases and pests.

The Research Triangle Park-based business hopes to secure $3 million in equity financing by the end of 2023 to support those efforts. Included in the mix are field trials, product manufacturing, a regulatory package submission and the expansion of its small staff. 

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 31 grants and loans totaling $2,764,811 to universities, life sciences companies and non-profit organizations in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year.

The awards, made in April, May and June, will support bioscience research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina. The funding will also help universities and companies attract follow-on funding from other sources.

Precision BioSciences has the need for speed.

Less than a month after the Durham-based clinical-stage gene editing company announced plans to look for strategic partners for its cell therapy assets, Precision has found one. It has reached a deal – potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars – with Imugene Limited for the global rights to its lead allogeneic CAR T candidate, Azercabtagene Zapreleucel (azer-cel).

Due to the continuing opioid epidemic, health care providers are often hesitant to prescribe opioid medications such as morphine, especially at high doses. This has left some patients with few options for treating severe pain.

“Even though pain relief is a multibillion-dollar industry, there haven’t been a lot of new pain medicines developed that aren't some kind of opioid derivative,” said Kori Brewer, Ph.D., professor at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. “And for some patients, even opioids don’t provide relief.” 

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