The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded 18 grants and loans totaling nearly $1.4 million to bioscience companies, universities and non-profit organizations in the first quarter of its 2019-20 fiscal year.
The awards, made from July 1 to Sept. 30, will support life science research and technology commercialization throughout North Carolina and help companies attract follow-on funding from other sources.
Four companies received Small Business Research Loans totaling $850,000. The loan program supports business inception and research leading to the development of products, processes or tools with clear commercial potential.
- Arrevus of Raleigh received $250,000 to complete supplemental studies and to design a Phase 2/3 clinical trial of the Staphylococcus aureus antibacterial sodium fusidate to treat cystic fibrosis patients.
- Isolere Bio of Durham received $250,000 to complete proof-of-concept and technical feasibility testing of IsoTag, its purification solution for gene-delivery vectors and monoclonal antibodies.
- IMMvention Therapeutix of Chapel Hill received $250,000 for Investigational New Drug-enabling activities for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. The company’s, novel AceIMMune technology delivers innate immunomodulatory drugs to immune cells, initiating responses to treat autoimmune conditions.
- Aniluxx Biotechnology of Raleigh received $100,000 for a clinical proof-of-concept study of topical foam formulations to treat atopic dermatitis in dogs.
Another company, Durham-based Emergo Therapeutics, received a $500,000 Strategic Growth Loan. The loan program matches a Biotechnology Center investment with angel or venture capital investments to fund companies that have established technical proof of concept and need further support to accelerate growth.
Emergo will use the funding to complete a Phase 2-B clinical study of its novel therapy aimed at disrupting mast cells’ ability to release inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing the impact of influenza symptoms.
Fifteen bioscience companies that previously received loans from the Biotech Center raised $16.5 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 almost half of that total was Durham-based Baebies Inc., which raised nearly $6 million in venture capital and $922,714 in grants from the National Institutes of Health. Babies is focused on newborn screening and pediatric testing with a diagnostics platform that uses microfluidics to move fluids with electrical charges instead of pressure.
The company’s Seeker product, approved for use in the United States and Europe, is a benchtop system that measures the activity of lysosomal enzymes from newborn dried blood spot specimens. Low activity of these enzymes may indicate lysosomal-storage diseases such as mucopolysaccharidosis type I, Pompe, Gaucher or Fabry.
The company’s Finder product, currently under development, uses one drop of blood to perform quick tests for analytes including glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, bilirubin and albumin.
Baebies received a $500,000 Strategic Growth Loan from the Biotech Center in 2014.
Overall, 58 life science companies in North Carolina raised $148.9 million in the first quarter, mostly in venture capital.
Leading the way were Durham-based Chimerix, which raised $34.9 million in venture capital; Asheville-based Avadim Health, which raised $27.9 million; Morrisville-based XinVivo, which raised $22.3 million; and Raleigh-based Sprout2, which raised $15.9 million.
EVENT, MEETING GRANTS AWARDED
The Biotech Center also awarded 13 grants totaling $40,575 to universities and non-profit organizations to support biotechnology events and meetings in the state.
Eleven grants totaling $25,575 were made through the Biotechnology Event Sponsorships program, which provides up to $3,000 for life science-focused events held primarily for a North Carolina audience.
Two grants totaling $13,000 were made through the Biotechnology Meeting Grants Program, which provides up to $10,000 for national or international meetings being held in North Carolina.