RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 44 grants and loans totaling $2.65 million to universities, bioscience companies and other organizations in the second and third quarters of its fiscal year.

The awards, made from Oct. 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, will support life science research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina and help universities and companies attract additional funding from other sources.

NCBiotech funding helps lay the groundwork for significant follow-on accumulations for the young companies that qualify for the support. An adjacent story describes research by the Biotech Center’s Life Science Intelligence staff, revealing that two dozen bioscience companies previously receiving NCBiotech loans raised about $115 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the last two quarters.

On average, every dollar of NCBiotech loan support leverages $103 in follow-on funding to young NC companies.

Company Loans

Five companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $1.25 million to support business inception and research leading to the development of products, processes or tools with clear commercial potential.

•    Symberix of Durham received $250,000 to develop its proprietary symbiotic drug candidate, SBXInh1, for improving chemotherapy outcomes in cancer patients.

•    Falcon Therapeutics of Durham received $250,000 to develop engineered neural stem cells from patient skin biopsies for treating triple-negative breast cancer.

•    Revivo Therapeutics of Durham received $250,000 to complete pre-clinical studies of compounds for potentially treating mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

•    Cereius of Durham received $250,000 to conduct pre-clinical studies of potential small-molecule therapies for treating brain metastasis in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

•    Uro-1 of Winston-Salem received $250,000 to develop and commercialize a visually guided injection system for delivering Botox into the wall of the bladder for the treatment of overactive bladder.

Also, eight companies received Industrial Internship Program awards of $3,000 each to sponsor business or bioscience interns: Chiesi USA of Cary, EG-Gilero of Morrisville, Locus Biosciences of Research Triangle Park, Scikon Innovation of Research Triangle Park,  SePRO of Whitakers, SmartGene of Raleigh, Surgilum of Wilmington and Syneos Health of Raleigh.

University funding

Five universities and one medical center received a dozen grants totaling $1.3 million to advance bioscience research. The awards were made under three programs.

Four Institutional Development Grants totaling $647,263 were awarded to three universities for the purchase of research equipment or instrumentation serving multiple investigators:

•    The Kinase Chemical Biology Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $66,263 for research equipment to prepare and validate potent and selective kinase inhibitors that can be used by scientists around the world to discover new drugs.

•    The Sequencing and Genomic Technologies core facility at Duke University Medical Center received $181,000 to acquire a patented 3-D instrument for cost-effective genomic and proteomic analysis of biological samples, supporting multiple cancer research studies at Duke.

•    The Duke BioRepository & Precision Pathology Center at Duke Medical Center received $200,000 for equipment to collect, analyze and share digital images of biobanked patient tissues.

•    The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance core facility at North Carolina State University received $200,000 for a NMR spectrometer to analyze the atomic, structural and chemical properties of diverse materials.

Five Biotechnology Innovation Grants totaling $467,948 were awarded to three universities to support research studies that explore potential commercial applications of early-stage university inventions:

•    Duke University received $100,000 to develop a new method of using specialty microbes to make peptides and proteins for medical use that are more stable and less reactive to the immune system. The first experimental peptide to be manufactured will be liraglutide, an FDA-approved treatment for type 2 diabetes.

•    Duke Medical Center received $100,000 to develop a new type of X-ray diffraction scanner to help pathology laboratories determine more effectively whether biopsied tissues contain tumor cells or are cancer free.

•    Duke Medical Center received $99,948 to test in an animal model the effectiveness of a new therapy for eliminating resistance to docetaxel, a chemotherapy drug, in prostate cancer cells.

•    East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine received $100,000 to test whether injections of regulatory T cells, grown in a proprietary culture method, will decrease signs and symptoms of the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis.

•    The School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $68,000 to develop a degradable biopolymer-based particle system for delivering next-generation immunotherapeutics into cancer cells.

Three institutions received Technology Enhancement Grants totaling $224,089 to fund research studies that will strengthen their licensing positions for commercially promising inventions.

•    Carolinas Medical Center received $74,089 to develop a new type of surgical drape that allows surgeons to monitor, collect and measure injected fluids that may leak from patients during certain gynecological procedures, increasing patient safety.

•    North Carolina Central University received $75,000 to develop a new assay that tests blood samples for PCSK9, a protein that helps control cholesterol levels.

•    North Carolina State University received $75,000 to develop low-cost pumps for disposable point-of-care diagnostic tests, improving the tests’ sensitivity and commercial viability.

Event Grants

Fourteen organizations throughout the state received 19 Biotechnology Event Sponsorships totaling $38,583 to support events, symposia, conferences or meetings that stimulate bioscience activity and growth.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center