Research Triangle Park drug company Dignify Therapeutics has parlayed $300,000 in loans from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center into $3.15 in equity financing.

Dignify, which had also landed a National Institutes of Health grant to help the company study its new medical treatment, said the equity funding came from RA Capital Management, Eshelman Ventures LLC and Terry Engel, an angel investor.

Dignify’s lead product, DTI-100, is believed to be the only medication ever designed specifically to provide rapid, on-demand, drug-induced voiding as a therapeutic strategy. The object is to provide a form of bladder and bowel control to people with spinal injury, spina bifida, and other neurological conditions.

The company said it will use the latest funding to complete ongoing preclinical activities and the subsequent phase I clinical proof-of-concept study to be initiated later this year.

NCBiotech recently awarded Dignify a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan, also to support the drug’s preclinical development. The Center also awarded a $50,000 Company Inception Loan to help bootstrap Dignify in 2013, and included the company in one of the events NCBiotech organizes in major venture capital centers to let big-name venture firms learn about promising NC life science investment opportunities.

“We could not have achieved this milestone without your efforts, including inviting us to Boston which is when we first met with RA Capital,” said Dignify CEO Benny Ward in a message thanking the Biotech Center and announcing the new outside investment.

Dignify’s novel pharmaceutical treatments for bladder and bowel dysfunction offer the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for people who rely on bladder catheters and bowel programs for voiding. The company estimates the worldwide market potential for DTI-100 for people with spinal cord injury will be approximately $400 million annually. Dignify is believed to be the only company developing pharmaceuticals targeting this therapeutic strategy.

“We are very appreciative of this award and continued support from NCBiotech,” said Dignify CEO Benny Ward. “Our team continues to make great progress as we move down a clear development path to the DTI-100 Phase I clinical study next year. This loan provides continued positive momentum and credibility to achieving this significant milestone for Dignify.”

Besides the NCBiotech loans, Dignify has received funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dignify, a member of the Blackstone Entrepreneur Network, is located at the First Flight Venture Center in RTP.

Editor’s note: Veteran journalist Jim Shamp is director of public relations for the N.C. Biotechnology Center.

(C) NC Biotech Center