Aperiomics Receives Second National Science Foundation Award
Friday, January 30, 2015
Aperiomics has been awarded a Phase IB grant through the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, bringing their current award total to nearly $180,000 from this program. The project, under the direction of Aperiomics Chief Science Officer Eduardo Castro-Nallar, PhD, is titled SBIR Phase I: Rapid Pathogen Diagnostics and Biosurveillance using Multiplexed High-throughput Sequencing.
This SBIR program offers short-term feasibility grants ($150,000-225,000) to help early-stage companies fund research and development. As follow-up, additional funding is available through Phase II grants to allow companies to focus on scale and development in the process of bringing their product or service to market. Phase II grants are longer term and up to $750,000. Aperiomics will submit a Phase II grant proposal in the next funding cycle.
A key objective for the SBIR program is to make entrepreneurial science companies more attractive to investors and to future partners and customers by reducing risk.
According to Aperiomics CEO Crystal Icenhour, PhD, “One of the added benefits to receiving this money is the ‘NSF seal of approval’ that can have a positive influence on strategic partners and investors. The grant also qualifies us for additional matching funds from the State of Virginia and the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation.”
At the recent Biotech Showcase 2015 during the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference Week held in San Francisco, Dr. Icenhour explained how Aperiomics is combining genomics and informatics in a novel way to produce faster and more accurate results than culture-based or even other molecular-based diagnostic approaches.
From a single test, the company’s innovative technology can simultaneously test for all pathogens whether bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite. The sample can be tissue, blood, plant, animal, or environmental. The unique process capitalizes on high-throughput next-generation sequencing and advanced Bayesian statistics. This system not only finds the “needle in the haystack,” but also can reveal that “a needle” is lurking there even if it has never been seen before.
With public health concerns ranging from influenza to Ebola, Aperiomics offers breakthrough capabilities in pathogen discovery, providing diagnoses in difficult cases of unknown etiology, pathogen surveillance, and monitoring of natural animal populations, as well as more routine pathogen detection. This technology platform has broad application across diverse markets including health care, agriculture, and industrial. As Dr. Icenhour explains, “The majority of pathogens are currently never identified. Thus, the advantages of accurate determination can be measured by improvements in human health, significant health care cost savings, and reduced risk to public health."