Content provided by the New Orleans BioInnovation Center.
New Orleans startup AxoSim Technologies has been awarded a $225,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant by the National Institutes of Health. This one-year grant will fund additional research to demonstrate that AxoSim’s novel nerve-on-a-chip technology can improve drug development in the pharmaceutical industry and in the chemotherapy space in particular. The data obtained through this grant funding will allow the company to start marketing their technology to customers around the world and begin to scale up operations here in Louisiana.
A spinout of Tulane University, AxoSim has developed a new research model that looks and acts like a real nerve, serving as an alternative to costly animal testing and ineffective petri dish models. These models do not always accurately reveal efficacy data or all potential toxic neurological side effects in early preclinical testing because they only loosely mimic the functions of human cells and organ systems. Because these are the current standard methods for preclinical testing, however, prospective drugs frequently move into subsequent development stages at significant cost, only to fail when major toxicities are revealed in human trials.
“By de-risking potential therapeutics and eliminating problematic drug candidates earlier, we offer a more reliable testing model that will help pharmaceutical companies bring new disease treatments to patients more quickly,” said AxoSim co-founder Lowry Curley. “This grant will specifically help us demonstrate that our model works in potential treatments for cancer patients, as chemotherapy drugs are known to cause extreme side effects that damage the nervous system.”
AxoSim is also pursuing additional lines of research, including applying this technology to potential Multiple Sclerosis drugs. The team will present next week during the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology. The company will also participate in several events during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week including the JEDCO Challenge on March 14.
Numerous federal agencies award small business research grants including STTRs to innovative small technology businesses across the country through a highly competitive application process. Meant to spur innovation, technology development, and eventually economic growth, this $2.8 billion program specifically reserves research and development funds for small businesses so they can better compete with larger companies.