Axon Nutritionals Gets Federal Funds

The Roanoke Times

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Area biotech firms get federal funds

The Southwest Virginia medical and drug companies got money under the new health care law.

By Jeff Sturgeon

Acting on the nation's new health care provisions, the Obama administration gave six biotech firms in Southwest Virginia financial booster shots to pursue development of better drugs, innovative tissue substitutes and other medical products and services.

"This really helps companies like us to move the drug development forward," said Sunder Malkani, CEO of the recipient OcuCure Therapeutics in Roanoke.

OcuCure shared in the gains along with Axon Nutritionals Inc., Revivicor Inc., Synthonics Inc. and Techulon, all of Blacksburg, and Ocular Optics Inc. of Roanoke.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 provided that grants be given to firms with "significant potential to produce new and cost-saving therapies, support jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness," according to the Internal Revenue Service, which is helping allocate $1 billion in grants and tax credits for the government's Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project.

In all, 45 Virginia companies won funding, ranking Virginia 19th in the amount of money committed to its companies.

OcuCure is seeking unspecified millions to begin human clinical trials of a therapeutic eyedrop for treatment of age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy, the leading causes of blindness in the developed world. The federal government awarded $244,479.

The same amount was allocated to Revivicor to advance its work in regenerative medicine. The company is developing a collection of pigs to become a "superior quality, high-volume, human-compatible, alternative tissue source for treatment of human degenerative disease," according to a release from the NewVa Corridor Technology Council.

Synthonics received $633,797 to advance its drug work based on proprietary metal-coordination chemistry.

Techulon received $132,620 "to support its research and development into biodegradable transfection reagents used to deliver cell-based therapies for cancer and other diseases," a company news release said.

Axon Nutritionals, focused on nutritional supplements and related products, received $8,500.

Ocular Optics, a Roanoke company developing vision products, received $244,479.

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