FORT WORTH, TX. – Nanoscope Technologies, a SmartStart client of TechFW, has received two grants totaling $4 million for two optogenetics technologies that could bring sight to those with damaged retina cells. The grants are from the National Institute of Health subsidiary National Eye Institute within the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
“We are grateful and thrilled for the support. This will allow us to advance the development of our product pipelines for rapid clinical translation,” said Sulagna Bhattacharya, the CEO/COO of Nanoscope Technologies. “This means that if the next steps are successful, we could bring back sight to millions who currently have no other recourse for treatment. With these grants, we are able to recruit top talent to the region, and can be expected to enhance our strength in innovation and commercialization.”
Nanoscope Technologies was founded by Dr. Samarendra Mohanty, the President and Chief Scientific Officer. With the grants and additional research, it will grow to 14 employees.
In scientific terms, Nanoscope Technologies has developed a suite of synthetic multi-characteristic opsins (MCO) having high light sensitivity for sensitizing cells toward light so that the targeted cells can be optically activated.
One Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $2 million is to further develop the opsin research. The virus carrying MCO (VMCO) technique bypasses damaged cells and injects the MCO gene into working cells in the retina. The gene produces the MCO-protein that is light sensitive, helping the ganglion and bipolar cells regain sight. Market potential in the U.S. alone is several million people. This is a significant undertaking and could make a major breakthrough in the vision restoration strategy for patients with retinal degenerative diseases. What’s unique about the approach is that it does not require any implant or external devices, and can be effective in ambient light.
The other grant, also approximately $2 million, would take the MCO opsins a step beyond to allow them to emit light via Bio-luminescence (BMCO). The opsins allow stimulation of the cells and would produce the image the brain is transmitting from the emitted light via an implanted camera. It has treatment implications beyond the retina cells, including chronic pain, epilepsy and neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s.
The BMCO grant is funded under the Bioengineering Research Grant program of NIH and Nanoscope Technologies is the first non-university, for-profit company to receive one.
In addition to its work with the restoration of vision, Nanoscope is testing its light-based technologies for non-invasive cancer detection and non-invasive chronic pain management.
“These grants are a testament to the innovative work that Nanoscope is undertaking to improve vision for so many in need. It is a day to celebrate whenever a startup is awarded NIH and Phase II SBIR grants and we are excited to see where Nanoscope goes next with its research,” said Hayden Blackburn, TechFW Executive Director.
Bhattacharya spent more than a decade in management consulting for large firms such as Deloitte and Hitachi, mostly concentrating on Business Intelligence Statistics and Risk Management. Dr. Mohanty has almost two decades of scientific, industrial and academic experience on bio-medical technologies. He is an expert in biomedical instrumentation and gene therapy.
Nanoscope Technologies’ science combines molecular biology, biomedical optics, neuroscience, and biomedical engineering. The company is located in Bedford, TX.
TechFW is a non-profit organization that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow emerging technology companies that have a high potential for success. It mentors, coaches and relentlessly pushes them toward success. TechFW has offices at the James E. Guinn Complex in Fort Worth and is supported by the UNT Health Science Center, the University of Texas at Arlington, and the City of Fort Worth. For more information, contact Hayden Blackburn at (817) 984-9841 or firstname.lastname@example.org .