The Nebraska Business Development Center provided “clear and supportive guidance” that enabled biotechnology company Transgenomic, Inc., to successfully obtain a grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) matching funds program.
A global company that advances personalized medicine in oncology through specialized diagnostic technologies, Transgenomic has its corporate headquarters and laboratories in Omaha.
A client of the NBDC since 2013, Transgenomic was recently awarded a $1.5 million federal STTR grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These funds are shared with Dr. Mike Makrigiorgos’ lab in the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI)Â in Boston, Mass. He is the inventor of the grant’s key technology. Transgenomic has an exclusive license for the method.
Transgenomic’s main focus is currently on developing research products for pharmaceutical clients working on cancer drugs, patient services in its Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) lab, and kits for research groups and diagnostic labs enabling highly sensitive and simple analysis of liquid biopsies.
“The NIH two-year grant is to develop an advanced form of the ICE COLD-PCR (ICP) method that we have been doing in association with DFCI — specifically as related to allowing multiplexing, or many genetic analysis reactions in one tube,” says Transgenomic spokesman Philip Eastlake.
“When we wrote the grant a year ago, the main downstream sequence analysis platforms were traditional Sanger sequence and the Ion Torrent next-generation sequencing instrument,” Eastlake says. “During that time, the system offered by Illumina, MiSeqDx, has increasingly become the leading system for academic, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors.
“We already have the Ion Torrent system,” he says. “However, we did not have funds in our (federal) STTR grant to purchase a MiSeqDx instrument.”
NBDC Technology Commercialization Program Director Wei Jing introduced officials at Transgenomic’s Omaha office to the Nebraska Small Business Innovation Research SBIR/STTR matching funds program after the company asked about local STTR grant training.
“With Nisha Avey of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development managing the completion of the grant contracts and Wei helping us compile our application, the process was made very simple,” Eastlake says. The state subsequently awarded Transgenomic a $100,000 STTR matching grant towards acquiring the MiSeqDx instrument.
“Wei and Nisha’s clear and supportive guidance made the whole process very straightforward for us,” Eastlake says. “From inquiry to award was just a few weeks, which allowed us to plan for having the MiSeqDx system up and running much earlier. This will have a significant effect on our future company prospects, both financially and in employing local research technicians and scientists.”
He says Transgenomic looks forward to continued collaboration with Jing and other NBDC consultants. “Wei has also brought to our attention several other NBDC events and training programs that will be of significant benefit to our R&D grant and team management,” he says.