Research Triangle Park-based medical diagnostics company BioMedomics has received a $222,950 grant from the National Institutes of Health to boost its development of a diagnostic test to aid in treating people with sickle cell disease (SCD).

The company, started in 2006 with the help of a $19,000 loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, will use the phase one Small Business Innovation Research funding to help it develop a test for use in hospitals or doctors’ offices to more quickly determine levels of blood components for improved SCD treatment.

Frank Wang, Ph.D., CEO, who is also a co-founder of the firm, said BioMedomics’ quantitative point-of-care system will test specifically for hemoglobin S (HbS) and hemoglobin F (HbF).

SCD is one of the most common genetic disorders, affecting over 100,000 people In the U.S. alone. Most of those who suffer from the painful and life-threatening anemia are African-Americans. Half of the SCD population undergoes frequent blood transfusions aimed at lowering HbS, and about one-third of these patients receive chronic Hydroxyurea therapy with the goal of raising their HbF levels. It’s difficult to track and balance the appropriate levels of HbS and HbF, especially because current test procedures take several days to a week for clinicians to get these critical results from remote testing labs.

BioMedomics reader and diagnostic test cartridges.

“That early Biotechnology Center support has enabled us to continue successfully developing our technology with the aid of additional federal and state funding,” said Wang. The company has subsequently received nearly $3 million in funding, including $150,000 in NC Idea and One NC Small Business state grants and nearly $1 million in venture capital investment.

“We are very delighted to receive this NIH grant,” Wang said in announcing the latest grant. “The NIH review board has recognized our expertise in developing both qualitative and quantitative POC tests for significant hemoglobinopathies.

“This success was made possible by the hard work of our outstanding scientists and other staff members at BioMedomics. I am very proud of their achievements. These tests will be a great addition to our already approved SickleScan qualitative test for screening both sickle cell disease and sickle trait patients.”