Small Business Innovation Research Program Provides Seed Funding for R&D
Plexision, (www.plexision.com) a biotech company specializing in cell-based technologies, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant. This funding will be used to develop a widely available version of Plexision’s novel immunity test for COVID-19 infection. Current tests assess protective immunity by measuring antibodies, which develop after infection. Plexision’s blood test measures cell-mediated immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and is offered from its CLIA-certified laboratory. This test can aid immunity assessments in individuals who have never been exposed to the virus, and those who may develop short-lived antibodies after exposure to the virus.
Pre-existing cell-mediated immunity has been detected in over half of healthy individuals who have never been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, and reflects prior exposure to other coronaviruses which cause flu-like illness in the general population. This immunity is greatly compromised in severe COVID-19 infection. Therefore, in addition to assessing infection-risk among vulnerable unexposed individuals, cell-mediated immunity can also identify those patients at risk for severe COVID-19 infection.
"NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering," said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. "With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs."
"We are delighted that the NSF has supported further development of Plexision’s blood test to measure cell-mediated immunity to the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic," said Rajeev Sindhi, Plexision’s CEO. "Defining COVID-19 infection-risk in healthy individuals, and predicting disease severity in patients with this infection are unmet needs of these challenging times. With its strong background in translating immune cell function into clinical solutions, Plexision’s scientific team is committed to improving patient care with personalized risk assessment."
About the National Science Foundation's Small Business Programs: America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.75 million to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.1 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.
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Rakesh Sindhi, Chief Scientific Officer