Five drug development startups in the Triangle are receiving a financial boost from the in the form of loans totaling $1.3 million.

The Biotech Center also will help the startups with professional services such as business-plan advice.

Molecular Orthopaedics, which is based in Chapel Hill, received the largest loan, $350,000. The company is developing gene therapy that includes biological nanoparticles. Its first target is osteoarthritis.

and received loans of $250,000 each.

MastCell Pharmaceuticals was awarded a $203,000 loan.

The four loans were part of the state-supported Biotech Center’s “Small Business Research Loan” program.

, meanwhile, received a $250,000 “Strategic Growth Loan” from the Center. These loans target more advanced firms that have established a technical proof of concept. The loan requires matching investment from either an angel investor network or from venture capitalists.

FirstString is developing potential drugs that could reduce scarring and inflammation from wounds as well as regenerate what the company calls “complex tissues.” It received a $25,000 loan from the Biotech Center earlier this year.

Trana, which received a $25,000 loan from the Biotech Center in 2006, has developed a drug discovery platform. Its initial targets are drugs to combat infections.

Exigent is developing compounds that it hopes will combat drug-resistant bacteria.

MastCell, the recipient of a $24,900 Biotech center loan in 2006, is focused on treatments for acute gastrointestinal allergic reactions.