Companies focused on gene therapy and swine disease are getting nearly $300,000 in loans from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Asklepios, or AskBio, BioPharmaceutical in Chapel Hill is getting $150,000 to pursue development of a gene-based therapy for congestive heart failure.

ArrayXpress, meanwhile, is getting $149,858 to put into its swine disease research efforts. The firm wants to develop a diagnostic test.

“ArrayXpress and Asklêpios are two young North Carolina-headquartered biotechnology companies that are working on some very important breakthroughs in their respective areas of animal and human health,” said John Richert, vice president of the Business and Technology Development Program at the Biotechnology Center, in a statement. “The Biotechnology Center is pleased to support these two young companies in their respective research efforts. These loans are designed to help companies better define their technologies and, upon completion of their respective Biotechnology Center-supported research projects, make them even more attractive to institutional investors.”

ArrayExpress is developing a genomic microarray-based tool designed to rapidly detect and identify pathogens related to Porcine Respiratory Disease Complex in swine.

“We are very pleased that the Biotechnology Center has made this award to ArrayXpress,” said Brian Schneider, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs at ArrayXpress. “The review of our submission was extensive and helped us refine our development strategy. The resulting award helps validate the market opportunity of our project, and we are excited about moving forward.”

ArrayXpress was founded in 2003 and is based at Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University.

AskBio is working with nano particles designed to deliver therapeutic materials into a cell, The company hopes to develop a means of using particles derived from adeno-associated viruses for use in the hearts of people suffering from congestive heart failure.

“This award allows Asklêpios to pursue a promising treatment for congestive heart failure, a disease for which there is no long-term, life-sustaining treatment and which is suffered by over five million Americans, currently a number that is growing at the rate of over 400,000 new victims each year,” said Sheila Mikhail, chief executive officer of AskBio. “With the support of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, we are able to combine research developed at two of North Carolina’s top research centers, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, in a collaborative effort to fight this disease.”

AskBio was launched in 2003 and is based in Chapel Hill.

The loans were made through the Biotech Center’s Small Business Research Award Program. Loans can be for as much as $150,000.