The state’s technology investment agency has invested nearly $1 million into a pair of university-based biotechnology research projects, including one at Yale, in an effort to speed their commercialization.
Officials with Connecticut Innovations said Tuesday that the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund (CBIF), which the agency manages, awarded $954,000 to the projects following a competitive review of project applications. The CBIF is a $200 million fund that will make biotechnology investments in the form of grants, loans and equity investments.
The fund launched in 2014 and already has awarded nearly $5 million to bioscience projects.
Margaret Cartiera, director of bioscience initiatives at Connecticut Innovations, said the CBIF is “starting to see a broader range of applicants that have the potential to elevate their respective industries.”
“During our latest review, we were able to fund a diagnostic test and a therapeutic treatment,” Cartiera said in a statement. “We continue to encourage submissions from startups, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions as we look to invest in the strongest early-stage research in our state.”
The largest amount of funding in Tuesday’s announcement, $500,000, went to Dianqing Wu, a professor of pharmacology at the Yale School of Medicine. Wu’s project involves the continued development of a targeted, antibody approach for colorectal cancer treatment.
Antibodies include several classes of molecules, some of which are designed for secretion in the bodily fluids while others are designed to be deployed on the cell surface. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in developed countries with an estimated one million cases diagnosed each year and 500,000 deaths each year.
The other CBIF funding recipient was Dr. Robert Clark, with the University of Connecticut Health Center. Clark is working on the project, which received $454,813, in collaboration with Dr. Frank Nichols.
The project involves further development of a multiple sclerosis blood-based biomarker diagnostic test that clearly distinguishes healthy individuals from those with the disease. A biomarker is a measurable substance in an organism whose presence is indicative of some disease, infection or environmental exposure.
Currently, there is no single test that can make a definite diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Connecticut Innovations manages two funds under BioInnovation Connecticut: CBIF and the Regenerative Medicine Research Fund.