RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Affinergy continues to pull in federal grants as part of its research and development efforts into technology to help improve transplant technology.

The RTP-based firm, which is attempting to commercialize technology licensed from Duke University, has received a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research worth more than $1.8 million. Affinergy received more than $500,000 in other grants earlier this year.

The Phase 2 SBIR funds, which historically are more difficult to receive than Phase 1 awards, will be used for in vivo, or in-body studies, Affinergy said. The latest grant from the National Institutes of Health came through the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

“This grant will fund a series of critical in vivo tests over the coming years,” said Quinn Wickham, an MD, who is director of preclinical studies at Affinergy.

“Over 950,000 devices are implanted each year in the hip, knee, and dental implant markets,” he added. “Improving the fixation and integration of those devices will have major clinical benefits for the patients, improve their overall quality of life, and reduce general healthcare costs. We are anxious to move the program forward to get these improved devices to market.”

Jonathan Gindes, the firm’s chief financial officer and senior vice president for business development, said the grant “further validates our technology as reviewed by scientific peers and acknowledges the progress that was demonstrated by our staff during Phase 1 of the program.”

Paul Hamilton, vice president of research and development, said Affinergy’s technology has “the potential to improve the performance of these implants”. He is the principal investigator for the project.

Affinergy has developed technology that uses what it calls “biofriendly linkers” that adhere selectively to surfaces, proteins, drugs and cells with the goal of “kickstarting” an intended outcome. Affinergy, which landed $3 million in venture funding in March, is specifically targeting the orthopedic and cardiovascular markets.