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NCBiotech Awards $1.4 Million in Latest Quarter

By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 13 grants and loans totaling $1.4 million to universities and bioscience companies in the second quarter of its 2016-2017 fiscal year ending Dec. 31.

The awards will support life science research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina and help universities and companies attract additional funding from other sources.

Company Support

Three companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $750,000. These funds support applied research critical to the development of products, processes or tools with clear commercial potential.

Clinical Sensors of Research Triangle Park received $250,000 to accelerate product development and partnering activities for a sensor that rapidly measures nitric oxide in patient blood to help improve the detection of sepsis, a severe response to bacterial infection sometimes referred to as “blood poisoning.”

Biorg of Winston-Salem received $250,000 to develop a liver-cancer model for drug safety and efficacy testing that promises improved predictive accuracy and reduced reliance on animal testing.

MAA Laboratories of Raleigh received $250,000 for proof-of-concept studies for two new cancer therapies based on formulation technology first developed at North Carolina State University.

Lucerno Dynamics of Morrisville received a $300,000 Strategic Growth Loan. SGLs help companies reach specific and meaningful milestones that will enable them to obtain further funding from investors and/or to commercialize their products. Lucerno’s is for commercialization of its quality assurance and quality control system for PET and CT scans. The technology is designed to reduce the likelihood that compromised scan images are used in patient care. The work will include clinical studies at 10 sites, three of them in North Carolina.

A brief overview of follow-on funding events during the quarter for NCBiotech portfolio companies is in an accompanying story.

University R&D Grants

Fayetteville State University (on behalf of principal investigator Shirley Chao, Ph.D.) received a Technology Enhancement Grant for $74,800. This grant program is for university technology transfer offices to support research and other commercially important activities that will make a technology licensable. FSU will use its grant to develop CannaMix, a selective natural pest control product derived from hemp seeds that hinders insect development and reproduction but does not harm animals such as fish.

Three universities received Biotechnology Innovation Grants totaling $290,509. These grants support studies that enable commercialization of early-stage life science inventions at universities.

NCSU (principal investigator Ke Cheng, Ph.D.) received $100,000 for development of a new magnetic device called MitraMag to repair leaky mitral heart valves in dogs and humans.

Duke University Medical Center (principal investigator Nandan Lad, M.D., Ph.D.) received $100,000 to test new designs for cranial shunts that drain excess brain fluid resulting from head trauma, disease or congenital defect.

Elon University (principal investigator Daryl Lawson, D.Sc.) received $90,509 to develop a medical device that uses heat and electrical stimulation to treat non-healing diabetic foot ulcers.

Meeting and Event Grants

Three universities and one research organization received Biotechnology Event Sponsorships and Biotechnology Meeting Grants totaling $20,950.

High Point University received $3,000 for the 114th North Carolina Academy of Science annual meeting and research conference, scheduled for March 24 and 25. The conference will bring together diverse groups of high school, undergraduate and graduate students and faculty from public and private institutions in North Carolina to present their original scholarly research.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $10,000 for the Carolina Nanoformulation Workshop, scheduled for March 13 through 17. The annual scientific workshop will focus on challenges and opportunities in drug development, and enables interaction between academic and industrial scientists.

UNC also received $3,000 for the 2017 Integrative Vascular Biology and UNC McAllister Heart Institute Annual Research Symposium on March 7. The symposium will expose the local scientific community to new data generated by cardiovascular researchers in the Research Triangle area. 

UNC Charlotte received $3,000 for the National Donor Day Symposium: Conversations of the Heart on Feb. 14. The symposium will explore the many dimensions of organ donation, procurement, placement and preservation.

Underwriters Laboratories received $1,950 for the Personalized Health and Wellness Symposium in March. The symposium will bring innovation and safety experts together for discussion of advancements in biotechnology.

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