Precision Human Biolaboratory, a startup launched by two former GlaxoSmithKline researchers, has landed $250,000 from an investment firm and a $250,000 loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
The Biotech Center made the funds available through its Strategic Growth Loan (SGL) program. SGL loans require a match from angel investors or a venture capital firm. PHB’s loan is for the maximum amount the center makes through the SGL program, which is designed to help startups commercialize products and technology.
KI Investment Holdings, which is based in San Diego, invested $250,000 in PHB.
The company also has raised another $600,000 and recently won a $100,000 government Small Business Innovation Research grant.
PHB, which was founded last year, has developed a blood test that tracks biomarkers linked to major depression, or major depressive disorder, according to the company. The blood test, which PHB has said is the first for depression, could replace standard means for diagnosing and monitoring the condition, such as questionnaires and clinical assessments.
A sensor in PHB’s proprietary platform analyzes biomarkers associated with a specific disease.
“We obviously see important business and medical potential in this venture,” said Stan Sewitch, KI’s chief executive officer. “The North Carolina Biotechnology Center helps firms like ours target great opportunities with its judicious support of the state’s best scientists.”
PHB’s founders included Yiwu He and John Bilello. He and Bilello were top executives at GSK’s Human Biomarker Center. He serves as president of PHB, Bilello as chief scientific officer.
The company is seeking several patents, including coverage for its sensor chip, biomarker diagnostic methods and measurement technology.
“Thanks to the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s help,” Yiwu He said in a statement, “PHB is developing a diagnostic tool that has the potential to greatly assist the medical, psychiatric and drug development communities in their efforts to address one of the highest-frequency and most debilitating conditions our society faces.
Bilello said the firm’s research has already identified potentially important