Editor’s note: NC IDEA recently announced six North Carolina startups as spring grant winners and recipients of a collective $300,000. This story is part of a series of profiles on the winners. (Note: Read a WRAL TechWire profile about SiNON as well.)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – As legend has it, the Trojan war ended after the Athenians faked out the Trojans by pretending to retreat and then sending a hollow wooden horse filled with Greek soldiers to their enemies as a “gift from the gods”.

A lone soldier, Sinon, guided the horse behind the Athenian gates, and convinced the Trojans to accept the ‘gift’. That night, he opened the horse’s hidden doors, and the Greek soldiers breached the city from within. The strategy was effective—the Greeks won the 10-year war and reclaimed their lands.

SiNON Therapeutics, named after that famous Greek soldier, has a strategy similar to the Athenians’. It uses a seemingly innocent device to transport weapons through a previously impenetrable barrier. If successful, SiNON could revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry and the treatments available for neurological diseases.

The technology—a patented nanoparticle called a carbon dot—encapsulates drugs that are typically blocked by what is called the “blood brain barrier” (BBB) from reaching the section of the brain diseases like Alzheimer’s attack. The carbon dot acts as a trojan horse of sorts, shepherding the medicine across the barrier to reach its destination more efficiently and safely than any other method discovered to date.

It’s the material’s potential impact on the life science industry and the strong leadership of young inventor Afreen Allam that persuaded NC IDEA to award a grant of up to $50,000 last week. One of just six companies to be named as recipients in the 23rd grant cycle, SiNON beat out 156 other applicants.

“Virtually every pharma company out there has the potential to be a customer of hers,” says NC IDEA President and CEO Thom Ruhe. The grant review team was impressed at her foresight to secure a patent while still in college.

There’s much more to the story. Read it at:

RTP’s SiNON Therapeutics Creates a Trojan Horse for Pharma