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Diagnostics Company Gets State Grant for Blood Platelet Test

Blood bag (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

Immunetics Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, received a Small Business Matching Grant (SBMG) to commercialize its BacTx test for detecting bacterial contamination in blood platelets. The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center made the $500,000 award.

Platelets enable clotting, and patients suffering from trauma, surgical procedures, cancer, or chemotherapy must receive platelet transfusions to survive. The company says bacterial contamination of blood platelets is the leading cause of infection during transfusion, with patients facing the risk of severe or fatal transfusion-associated sepsis from the roughly 1 in 2,000 platelet units that are contaminated. Simple, quick blood platelet tests close to the time of transfusion have  proven to been difficult to develop.

To qualify for an SBMG, companies must have received Phase II or Post-Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants from Federal research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation. Companies must also qualify as a small business under SBA guidelines. A total of 32 companies applied for the current round of the program and the four recipients were chosen through a competitive process.

Immunetics received two SBIR Phase II grants totaling approximately $4 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH, which supported the research and development of the test. The technology underlying the test was recently issued a U.S. patent, and foreign patents with approved claims are in process.

Andrew Levin, president of Immunetics says the grant will help make the jump “from R&D to manufacturing scale-up and regulatory approval, and commercially launch BacTx.” The company finished clinical trials for BacTx and plans to submit an application for approval to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this summer. With FDA approval, BacTx could be launched as early as this year.

Read more: Life Science Commercialization Grants Awarded

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