The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today announced nearly $570,000 in awards in its inaugural corporate grant program to support commercialization of new health and health-care products by four early-stage Washington-based companies.
Three of the new "PreCede" grants focus on improving the management of serious medical conditions. Glenn Kawasaki of Carepeutics, Inc., will test a technology for predicting patient responses to anticancer drugs to inform treatment decisions. Tom Sanko of EchoGuide Medical, Inc. (formerly Harpoon Navigation, Inc.), will develop and test an ultrasound-guided system for placing catheters in the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid. Robert Wilcox of Viket Medical Corporation will test a new approach for removing blood clots from the brains of individuals who have suffered a type of stroke called intracranial hemorrhage.
The fourth grant, to Thomas Schulte of Nexgenia, Inc., will optimize and scale up novel reagents to improve the speed and sensitivity of clinical assays for diagnosing various diseases.
The PreCede grant competition is designed to help position early-stage Washington life sciences companies for near-term equity investment. PreCede grants support research and development activities focused on validating the commercial merit of promising health-related technologies.
"LSDF has provided grant funding since 2007 to accelerate the movement of promising technologies into the commercial marketplace," stated LSDF Executive Director John DesRosier. "Today's grants represent LSDF's first dedicated mechanism to provide funding directly to companies. We have been encouraged and heartened by the strong support of and interest in this grant program from Washington's life sciences sector."
Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association President Chris Rivera noted that PreCede grants meet a vital need within the state's life sciences community, particularly in the current funding climate. "These grants support activities such as 'proof of concept' studies and prototype construction and testing that are critical for attracting angel and venture capital investment to complete development and successfully launch new products."