Irmo-based biotechnology company Integrated Micro-Chromatography Systems Inc. has been awarded $1.8 million for the second phase of a research grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Last January, the company received a $900,000 Fast-Track Small Business Innovation Research grant to fund research into the production of affordable gangliosides, biomolecules that contain sugars and a type of lipid called ceramides and play critical roles in various biological processes.
IMCS is using the research grants to synthesize and modify gangliosides to increase researchers’ understanding of how the biomolecules affect neurological functions and can be used to diagnose and treat neurological diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
IMCS was also awarded a four-year, $2.56 million Fast-Track Small Business Technology Transfer grant to build an array of sialoglycans, sugar-carrying glycans which are aberrantly expressed on many tumor cells. The sialoglycans advance glycobiology, which is the study of the biological impact of sugars.
The surfaces of viruses, bacteria and cells of our bodies contain sugars or glycans. Some virus and bacteria can exploit glycans to grow and thrive, while a lack of glycans can result in disease progression.
The projects will provide the scientific community access to affordable, easy-to-use reaction kits to facilitate synthesis of various glycans to advance research into potential diagnostics and therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. Glycobiology research has been hampered by the high cost of reagents and necessary materials, according to a news release from SCBIO.
"Some experiments with glycolipids are cost-prohibitive, but scalable and facile access to glycolipids would make such experiments financially feasible,” Matthew Macauley, Ph.D. and assistant professor of chemistry and the University of Alberta, said in the release.
The SBIR project is headed by L. Andrew Lee, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of IMCS, along with Xi Chen, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. The STTR project is in collaboration with Hai Yu, Ph.D., project scientist at UC-Davis.