RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 34 grants and loans totaling nearly $2 million to universities, biosciences companies and other entities in the fourth quarter of its last fiscal year.
The awards, made in April, May and June, will support life sciences research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina. The funding will also help universities and companies attract follow-on funding from other sources.
Three biosciences companies received loans totaling $850,000 to advance their research, product development and commercial viability.
- Lindy Biosciences of Research Triangle Park received a $500,000 Strategic Growth Loan to develop and commercialize its protein-dehydration MicroGlassification technology for protein therapeutic formulations.
- Higgs Boson Health of Durham received a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan to enhance Manage My Surgery, its platform for helping patients and health care providers navigate complex medical surgeries, and to begin nationwide sales and marketing of the cloud-based platform.
- Virokyne Therapeutics of Durham received a $100,000 Small Business Research Loan to develop small molecules for treating human cytomegalovirus infections in immune-suppressed organ-transplant patients.
Portfolio companies raise $15.2 million
Fourteen biosciences companies that previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised nearly $15.2 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the fourth quarter, according to research by the Biotech Center’s Life Science Intelligence staff.
Accounting for about one-third of that total was Panaceutics, which raised $5 million in venture capital. A provider of personalized nutrition products with operations in Research Triangle Park (RTP), Panaceutics will use the funding to scale production capabilities at its new manufacturing facility near Danville, Va., and fund research and development activities in RTP.
Two other companies also raised seven-figure funding. URO-1, a medical device company in Winston-Salem, secured $1.5 million in venture capital, and Raleigh-based Agile Sciences, a pharmaceutical company developing treatments for antibiotic-resistant infections, raised $1 million in venture capital.
Nine companies won federal research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation totaling $6.8 million.
Altogether, 50 bioscience companies across North Carolina raised $179.8 million in the fourth quarter from all sources including venture capital, federal grants, public stock offerings, acquisitions and debt financing, but not including Biotech Center loans.
One transaction accounted for almost half of that total. Durham-based BioCryst Pharmaceuticals raised $84.2 million in a second stock offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The next largest transaction was a $22.5 million equity investment in 9 Meters Biopharma of Raleigh.
Seven bioscience companies each received $3,000 from the Industrial Internship Program to sponsor industrial internships for undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates in business administration or the life sciences.
Recipients were Chiesi USA of Cary, Isolere Bio of Durham, Enzerna Biosciences of Greenville, BioAesthetics of Durham, Lindy Biosciences of Durham, Locus Biosciences of Morrisville and PRA Health Sciences of Raleigh.
Economic Development Awards
Two counties received Economic Development Awards totaling $200,000 to support specialized employee training for bioscience company expansions.
- Lee County received $100,000 to support training for Pfizer employees as the company expands its gene therapy manufacturing capabilities in Sanford.
- Wake County received $100,000 to support training for Cellectis employees as the company establishes its first North American manufacturing facility for CAR-T cancer cell therapies in Raleigh.
Eight universities and one non-profit research institute received grants totaling $908,669 to advance biosciences research. The awards were given through two programs: FLASH Grants, which support creative ideas that show early indications of commercial potential, and Translational Research Grants, which fund projects that explore potential commercial applications or initiate the early commercial development of university-held life sciences inventions.
Universities received 13 FLASH Grants totaling $258,865, all of them focused on potential solutions to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Duke University received $20,000 to build a diagnostic assay to accurately diagnose COVID-19 and predict the severity of patient response to the disease.
- Duke University received $20,000 to develop and test Covidentify, a mobile health tool that would enable continuous monitoring for early detection of COVID-19 infection in essential workers.
- Duke University Medical Center received $20,000 for preclinical studies to determine whether its nasal vaccine formulation provides lasting immunity against SARS-CoV-2, which localizes in the respiratory tract.
- East Carolina University received $20,000 to produce and test several vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 using a patented poxvirus platform to generate enhanced immune responses and increased protection against the virus.
- North Carolina A&T State University received $20,000 to develop an inexpensive and fast diagnostic test for COVID-19 that does not require laboratory equipment and can be used in remote settings.
- North Carolina Central University received $20,000 to demonstrate the utility of a zebrafish model for high-throughput testing of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
- North Carolina State University received $19,676 to test a novel COVID-19 vaccine consisting of inactivated SARS-CoV-2 formulated in a biopolymer solution containing immune modulators.
- NC State received $20,000 to evaluate a novel nanogel therapeutic to treat disseminated intravascular coagulation, a pathological process associated with higher mortality rates in COVID-19 patients.
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received $20,000 to test a novel artificial intelligence technology to improve the prediction accuracy of infrequent or rare clinical health outcomes such as adverse drug events, based on the clinical case of arrhythmia from hydroxychloroquine.
- UNC Charlotte received $19,987 to design a COVID-19 diagnostic assay to detect virus in saliva and blood.
- UNC Charlotte received $19,999 to develop a sensitive and cost-effective point-of-care diagnostic device for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2.
- UNC Charlotte received $19,203 to use data mining and machine learning for better understanding COVID-19 clinical stages and for providing a clinical-stage decision support system for physicians.
- The University of North Carolina Wilmington received $20,000 to develop a prototype of a novel needle-free patch for painless intradermal delivery of mRNA vaccines, including those being developed for COVID-19.
Universities and a non-profit research organization received six Translational Research Grants totaling $649,804:
- Duke University received $105,000 to develop a new therapeutic against B-cell cancers that attack two or more targets on cancer cell surfaces, in an effort to eradicate cancer cells and prevent relapses.
- Duke University Medical Center received $105,032 to develop a liquid formulation of an existing drug to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Pompe disease.
- Duke University Medical Center received $110,000 to design and test a new medical device for sterilizing post-surgical drains and reservoirs to prevent potential surgical site infections.
- East Carolina University received $109,772 to test a new mosquito-control treatment and will compare its effectiveness against existing insecticides.
- UNC-Chapel Hill received $110,000 to develop a new therapeutic that inhibits the activity of neutralizing antibodies, which are often in the bloodstream of patients undergoing gene therapy.
- RTI International of Research Triangle Park received $110,000 to develop a liquid formulation of hydroxychloroquine sulfate, a drug currently approved for the treatment of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria.
Meeting and event grants
Two universities and one non-profit association received grants totaling $12,448 to sponsor regional events or national meetings in the life sciences.
(C) N.C. Biotech Center