RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 21 grants and loans totaling about $1.79 million to bioscience companies, universities and non-profit organizations in the first quarter of its fiscal year.

The awards, made in July, August and September, will support life science research, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina. The funding will also help companies attract follow-on funding from other sources.

Company loans

Five bioscience companies received loans totaling $1.5 million through two loan programs to advance their research, product development and commercial viability.

Ideal Medical Technologies of Asheville received a $500,000 Strategic Growth Loan to advance its artificial intelligence-based artificial pancreas device for use in the intensive care unit (ICU). The device is intended to address dysglycemia (hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, increased glucose variability) experienced by some ICU patients.

Four companies received Small Business Research Loans:

  • Innatrix of Research Triangle Park received $250,000 to prepare for regulatory approval and scale-up production of its peptide biopesticide for the control of potato late blight.
  • Drive Therapeutics of Research Triangle Park received $250,000 to develop a novel, long-acting, bispecific aptamer therapeutic to mitigate poor patient response to current therapies for retinal diseases including wet age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema.
  • Translational Imaging Innovations of Hickory received $250,000 to develop and validate retinal biomarkers for use as efficacy endpoints for ocular gene therapy clinical trials.
  • BioMedInnovations of Denver received $250,000 to finalize product design and initiate activities required for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of its organ-transplant device.

Portfolio companies raise over $29 million

Twenty-one bioscience companies that previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised $29.2 million in follow-on funding from other sources in the first quarter, according to research by the Biotech Center’s Life Science Intelligence staff.

Accounting for much of that total was Durham-based Cell Microsystems, which raised $6.5 million in Series B venture capital financing led by Telegraph Hill Partners of San Francisco. The company’s CellRaft cell-sorting technology enables single-cell cloning, cell culture, analysis and isolation.

EpiCypher of Research Triangle Park received five research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling over $4.4 million. The company provides tools and services for epigenetics and chromatin biology research.

RedBud Labs of Research Triangle Park received three NIH grants totaling nearly $3 million. The company use microfluidic technology to simplify and automate complex sample-preparation workflows in labs.

University grants

Three universities received research grants totaling $240,000 from two programs:

  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received a $20,000 Flash Grant to develop sustainable methods for treating swine waste through solid-liquid separation, and treatment of the solid fraction with black soldier flies and the liquid fraction with biochar filtration media.
  • North Carolina Central University received a $110,000 Translational Research Grant to develop a minimally invasive and low-cost test for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia with high-sensitivity specificity using novel phospho-tau based biomarkers for early disease diagnosis and differentiation of Alzheimer’s from other tauopathies.
  • Wake Forest University Health Sciences received a $110,000 Translational Research Grant for the development of a novel drug target and early stage inhibitors for calcium-oxalate kidney stones.

Event and meeting grants

Four universities and four non-profit organizations received 13 grants totaling $49,325 to sponsor regional events or national meetings in the life sciences.

  • Duke University received $3,000 for the Triangle Regeneration Biology Symposium, a key event in regenerative biology and medicine that is designed to increase community engagement and collaboration among researchers and experts in the field.
  • Duke also received $3,000 for the annual meeting of the N.C. Chapter of the Society of Research Administrators. The meeting will provide educational workshops, professional development opportunities and the latest comprehensive information to research administrators across North Carolina.
  • North Carolina State University received $8,500 for the Building Partnerships for Health and Sustainable Agricultural Development in East Africa symposium, highlighting the ongoing research, challenges and needs for N.C.-East Africa collaborations.
  • NC State received $1,325 for the symposium Growing Knowledge and Application of Microbiomes in Agriculture for a More Sustainable Future. The meeting will address recent advances and major challenges in the development of microbiome tools, while also considering social, ethical and regulatory aspects.
  • UNC received $2,500 for the Triangle Cytoskeleton Meeting, a platform for scientists in the community to share novel and exciting research on the cytoskeleton – a crucial mediator underlying the mechanics and dynamics of a large number of physiological processes including cell organization, migration and proliferation.
  • UNC also received $1,000 for the UNC WinSPIRE Career Day, which will highlight the unique career paths and experiences of local diverse individuals working in science, technology, engineering and math, while making participants aware of the many career opportunities available in these fields.
  • UNC received $3,000 for the UNC Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics Retreat, an annual event for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to present innovative research to their peers and participate in professional development opportunities.
  • UNC’s Nutrition Research Institute received $8,000 for the Future Directions in Choline symposium, which will bring together researchers in the field of choline biology from academia, government and industry to discuss the field’s role in human health.
  • Wake Forest University received $3,000 for the Wake Forest Biomedical Informatics Artificial Intelligence Workshop, which will promote innovative research to address gaps in knowledge and contribute solutions to artificial intelligence and machine learning in healthcare and medical applications.
  • The North Carolina Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) received $8,000 for the 2023 Southeast Regional Meeting of ACS. The conference will highlight innovation in modern chemical sciences and featuring a diverse program of researchers from all disciplines of chemistry.
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, received $2,000 for the N.C. Science Policy Bootcamp, a four-day interactive forum for selected undergraduate and graduate students – known as N.C. STEM Policy Fellows. The forum will provide an introduction to science policy engagement with the top leaders in scientific, industry and governmental agencies.
  • The North Carolina Global Health Alliance received $3,000 for the 10th annual North Carolina Global Health Conference, Resilience in the Global Health Ecosystem. The conference will explore the key elements in expanding global health partnerships and deepening community relationships in the face of an ever-evolving global health landscape.
  • The North Carolina Branch of the American Society for Microbiology received $3,000 for its annual meeting, which develops and maintains research dialogue among scientists at academic and research institutions across the state in the field of microbiology.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center