Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Board Approves Next Round of Accelerator Program Loans for Early-Stage Companies

April 26, 2012

Waltham, MA – The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public agency tasked with implementing the state’s ten-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, today announced the awarding of $2.3 million in loans to five early-stage life sciences companies.  The Center’s Accelerator Program provides loans of up to $750,000 to early-stage companies engaged in life sciences research and development, commercialization and manufacturing.  The Center’s Board of Directors approved the fifth round of Accelerator loans today.

The Accelerator Program, the Center’s flagship investment program for companies, supports and “de-risks” early-stage companies by providing loans that will match other sources of capital.  By leveraging other sources of capital, the Accelerator Program provides support to companies at the most critical stages of their development cycle, enabling them to conduct vital research and proof-of-concept studies and attract subsequent investment while improving the odds of bringing cutting edge innovation to the marketplace.  Through previous rounds of the Accelerator Program the Center has invested $9.6 million in sixteen early-stage companies. To date these companies have raised more than $70 million in follow-on funding.

In September of 2010, Good Start Genetics became the first of these companies to pay back their loan, with interest, after securing $18 million in Series A financing.  The company recently moved into 15,000 square feet of space in Cambridge, has more than 20 employees, and has subsequently raised $14 million in Series B funding.  Three other companies, InVivo Therapeutics, 4s3 Bioscience and Pluromed (recently acquired by Sanofi), have also repaid their loans, with repayments from all four companies totaling $2,469,929.  Loan repayments contribute back to the Center’s funds that are available for reinvestment through this and other programs.

Applicants for the Accelerator Program are generally early-stage life sciences companies with a high-potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth, and downstream private equity financing.  The loans are designed to address the need for capital investment associated with the long life sciences R&D cycle and the high cost of translating research into a commercially viable product.

Applications were subjected to a double-blind, rigorous peer review, followed by an evaluation by the Center’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).  Applicants were then further screened by the Center’s Investment Sub-Committee of the Board of Directors, through a process that included a live presentation by finalists.  Final awards were determined by the Center’s Board of Directors.

The five companies that were authorized today to receive loans (pending due diligence by Center staff) through the Accelerator Program are:

Alcyone LifeSciences - $750,000 (Ayer) – Alcyone is developing a novel micro-catheter approach for the treatment of neurological conditions.  This micro-catheter platform employs a proprietary microfluidic design to enable the delivery of drug/active molecules directly to the central nervous system.  Significant opportunities exist for the treatment of malignant brain tumors, focal refractory epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.  An experienced team of advisors and the existing CEO have raised nearly $2 million based on the novel design concept and their previous experience.  They are currently focusing on adding staff to continue the product development efforts and proceed with regulatory submission.

Christcot Medical Company - $257,000 (Sudbury) - Christcot Medical is an emerging medical device company focused on enhancing the quality of life for patients with chronic medical conditions that leverage rectally delivered medications.  Their new device, InsertEase, is an innovative and unique suppository applicator that greatly improves the effectiveness of the medication delivered, is expected to improve compliance and provide a better patient experience.  The product is the first rectal suppository applicator to be cleared by the FDA for marketing and distribution.  The team is focused on scaling up for manufacturing by building a multi-cavity mold and expanding licensing coverage.

HepatoChem - $330,000 (Beverly) - HepatoChem is a revenue producing company working on metabolite profiling and production leveraging technology from Princeton University.  The initial objective is to create a robust fee for service business to develop difficult to synthesize proprietary small molecules for the drug industry based on unique chemical reactions allowed by porphyrins and other catalysts.  The longer term goal is to develop a drug discovery business for active metabolites, natural compounds and lead generation.  The focus of the current two employees is on adding equipment and capacity to expand their current footprint in their Beverly laboratory and adding both chemist and business development staff to allow continued customer acquisition and revenue expansion.

Sample6 Technologies - $750,000 (Boston) - Sample6 Technologies is building the world’s first “near real time” microbial monitoring system with initial application in the food industry.  Ongoing monitoring of dangerous pathogens such as listeria and salmonella will have profound impact on global health and wellness.  Long-term the company’s objective is to be the “smoke alarm” of pathogen detection, and to provide extremely high sensitivity and cloud-based data management.  A team of 10 is currently focused on product development, and with the loan the company will seek to expedite product development, and expand the sales and marketing team to move towards commercialization.

Strohl Medical Technologies - $245,000 (Weymouth) - Strohl Medical is creating a new medical device, NeuroEPG, for triaging potential stroke patients in order to accelerate their time to treatment.  With technology licensed from Tufts University, a small focused team has developed a product and found high sensitivity in a 30-patient clinical study.  They are currently preparing to commercialize the product by submitting their FDA 510 (k).  The kit components are all being manufactured in Massachusetts and they are also in the process of identifying a local contract manufacturer for testing the device.  Additional clinical evaluation is planned for three Massachusetts hospitals.

“Entrepreneurship is essential to the strength of our innovation economy, and the Life Sciences Center’s Accelerator Program is playing a crucial role in helping early-stage life sciences companies," said Governor Deval Patrick. “We look forward to working with these companies as they put down roots and grow in Massachusetts, supporting the future of innovation right here.”

 “The Center’s Accelerator companies have been making extraordinary progress in attracting private capital, creating jobs and advancing important new medical technologies to the marketplace,” said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO, Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister.  “We are pleased to add these five promising companies to the Center’s investment portfolio.”

“The Center’s Accelerator award came at a critical moment in the development of Pluromed, as a life-line for us right before we received two important grants from the National Institutes of Health,” said Pluromed President & CEO Jean-Marie Vogel.  “Together we have done something very important, with the potential to change the future of vascular and cardiovascular surgery for the benefit of millions of patients around the world.  Our progress would not have been possible without the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.” 

“AesRx is developing a therapeutic for sickle cell which is an orphan disease,” said Stephen Seiler, CEO of Newton-based AesRx, which received an Accelerator loan last year.  “To secure funding for any early-stage drug program in today’s environment is difficult – doubly so for an orphan indication.  The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s support was critical in getting us from pre-clinical development into human trials.”

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (“the Center”) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties among sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.

About the Life Sciences Accelerator Program
In order to expand life sciences-related employment opportunities, promote health-related innovations and stimulate research and development, manufacturing and commercialization in the life sciences, the Life Sciences Accelerator Program provides loans to companies engaged in life sciences research and development, commercialization and manufacturing in Massachusetts. Target entities are generally early-stage life sciences companies with a high-potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth, and downstream private equity financing. The program is designed to help sustain these companies through a critical stage of development and to leverage additional sources of capital to bring cutting edge innovation to the marketplace.

 

 

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