RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. March 5, 2013 – Life-science companies, start-ups, event sponsors, researchers and educators received $2.9 million in loans and grants from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center during the second fiscal quarter. The awards, in 10 programs, went to successful applicants across the state to support life-science entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and education. NCBiotech has been awarding this type of funding since it was established in 1984. Such awards have helped North Carolina become the nation’s third-largest biotech cluster. There are now more than 500 life-science companies in the state, with more than 58,000 employees and an average salary exceeding $78,000.
The loans and grants from NCBiotech include:
$250,000 for a Strategic Growth Loan
G1 Therapeutics, a Chapel Hill company with technology developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has discovered a novel method for preventing the blood-damaging side effects of exposure to ionizing radiation and cancer chemotherapy. The company will use the loan to help advance its lead compound toward clinical development.
$390,160 for Small Business Research Loans
Qualiber, also a Chapel Hill company with technology developed at UNC-Chapel Hill, received a $75,000 loan to develop processes for long-term storage and scale-up manufacturing of its nanoparticle cancer drug-delivery system.
Aerial BioPharma of Morrisville received a $250,000 loan to determine the safety and efficacy of a novel compound to treat excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy.
Galaxy Diagnostics, a Research Triangle Park company commercializing a Bartonella bacteria diagnostic developed at North Carolina State University, received a loan of $65,160. Funds will be used to expand the company’s product offerings beyond Bartonella testing to other hard-to-detect pathogens involved in chronic disease.
$1,170,061 for Multidisciplinary Research Grants
Gideon Wasserberg, of the University North Carolina Greensboro, received a $300,000 grant to develop a trap for sand flies. These traps could inhibit disease transmission and reduce the population of blood-fed females. Sand fly control, especially important to the health of overseas military personnel, can have a major impact on the biodefense industry in N.C.
Wolfgang Bergmeier, of UNC-Chapel Hill, received $300,000 for a project investigating the mechanisms underlying platelet activation at sites of vascular injury. This research could lead to the development of novel anti-platelet drugs and improved therapies for cardiovascular complications, such as heart attack and stroke.
Gregory Palmer, Ph.D., of the Duke University Medical Center, also received $300,000 for a project involving imaging, modeling and modulating the role of myeloid cells in tumor growth and therapy. Palmer and his team will develop real-time imaging of tumors to identify the role of the myeloid immune cells in stimulating the growth of tumors, tumor associated blood vessels and promoting treatment resistance.
Reza Ghiladi, Ph.D., of NCSU, was awarded a grant of $270,061 for a project that involves deriving cellulose from wood deconstruction for biofuel production. Ghiladi’s research will use a three-pronged approach to convert cellulose derived from wood into simple sugars that are easily fermented to biofuel.
$100,000 for Company Inception Loans
There were two of these $50,000 loans awarded this quarter.
One was awarded to Chapel Hill-based Biodeptronix for the commercial launch of its first product, developed at UNC-Chapel Hill. The company is developing a portable air-quality monitoring instrument that uses living human lung cells to measure the effects of airborne pollutants. This instrument will be used for air quality research and to measure air quality in urban, industrial and other environments.
The other was awarded to Benson Hill Biosystems, an agricultural biotechnology company dedicated to delivering substantial production gains to the agriculture sector by advancing biotech-based traits to increase intrinsic yield. The loan will be used to position the company for securing its first round of investment capital.
$50,000 for an Economic Development Award
NCBiotech provided a performance-based Economic Development Award to Guilford County to support the expansion of Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on human and animal health therapeutics with expertise in parasitology and drug delivery systems.
$195,525 for Collaborative Funding Grants
NCBiotech’s Collaborative Funding Grant supports university-company partnerships that advance a company’s technology to the marketplace. These grants include:
Allan Brown, Ph.D., at NCSU, received $95,525 for a project to evaluate the potential of plant material to increase lutein in commercial broccoli. The project could result in a superior product for the Monsanto Company that can be marketed to reduce the onset and progression of degenerative eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Wolfgang Liedtke, M.D., Ph.D., at the Duke University Medical Center, received $100,000 for researching enhanced delivery vehicles for therapy-resistant pain. A proprietary transdermal delivery technology of Chapel Hill-based Achelios Therapeutics will be used to enhance the understanding of pathological pain and to advance therapeutic options by delivering analgesics effectively to nerve endings directly under the skin.
$50,000 for a Technology Enhancement Grant
Kelly Parsons, Ph.D., of UNC-Chapel Hill, received this grant to help the university advance the development of a high-throughput screening assay that can identify promising drug candidates targeting a family of enzymes believed to be linked to numerous human diseases.
$700,000 for a Centers of Innovation Grant Tranche
The funding was awarded to Deborah Mosca as an annual tranche in the $2.5 million, four-year Phase II funding of the N.C. Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation (MBCOI). The MBCOI is a non-profit entity which integrates marine biotechnology-based research, services, innovations and entities to commercialize marine biotech products and create jobs.
$7,341 for Biotechnology Event Sponsorships
One of the most valuable services from NCBiotech is its unique ability to make connections and bring people across the state together to spur research, its commercialization, and ultimately companies providing excellent jobs. NCBiotech sponsored four events across the state during the quarter:
The Tar Heel Innovation Challenge received $1,000 for its first annual science competition for high school and high school-equivalent students held at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The UNC McAllister Heart Institute received $3,000 for the 2013 Integrative Vascular Biology & Annual Research Symposium.
The North Carolina Chapter of the Society of Research Administrators International received $2,000 for its annual conference, which will be held March 11-13, 2013 in Greensboro.
The UNC School of Medicine Gene Therapy Center and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine received $1,341 for its collaborative Nexus of Gene Therapy and Regenerative Medicine symposium, held February 7.
$14,700 for Biotechnology Meeting Grants
ScienceOnline received $8,000 for its 2013 conference exploring the possibilities of science on the Web, which took place January 30 - February 2 at N.C. State University.
Wake Forest University received $6,700 for its 4th Annual Biotech Conference and Case Competition, which brought business school students from some of the country’s top programs for a closer look at the life-sciences innovation coming out of the Triad.
NCBiotech is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business, education and strategic policy statewide.