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Updated 10:00 AM August 14, 2006




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Professor's nanotech company secures $30M investment

NanoBio Corp., a company founded by Dr. James R. Baker, Jr., the Ruth Dow Doan Professor of Biologic Nanotechnology, has secured $30 million in funding from Perseus, L.L.C., a leading private equity fund management company headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The funding represents one of the largest single institutional investments in a biotechnology company in the state of Michigan.

Established in Ann Arbor six years ago, NanoBio Corp. develops therapies and vaccines against infections ranging from cold sores to nail fungus and influenza using a novel nanoemulsion technology developed at U-M.

"This is an outstanding example of the way academic research at the University of Michigan spawns new ideas that will create economic growth in the region," says President Mary Sue Coleman. "Our enhanced technology transfer efforts and the support of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have paid off handsomely in the case of NanoBio, and we are expecting many more successes to come."

"The University is proud that it could provide the environment for Dr. Baker to conduct this science and to launch this promising company," says Stephen Forrest, vice president for research. "This groundbreaking technology is positioned to create a wide range of treatments that could dramatically improve human health in the years ahead."

NanoBio's nanoemulsion consists of very tiny droplets of oil—each just one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair—suspended in water and stabilized by detergents. The droplets in the nanoemulsion are surface active and react specifically with the outer membrane of infectious organisms. This reaction tears the pathogen membrane, which kills the organism. The technology works differently than antibiotics or traditional antiseptics, and is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

Baker directs the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences. Scientists at the institute are exploring applications of this technology in topical treatments for a wide variety of infections caused by viruses, fungi, bacteria and spores. Pre-clinical work is underway on a mucosal vaccine for the prevention of influenza, anthrax, smallpox and hepatitis B. In this vaccine work, Baker's team has applied a mixture of nanoemulsion and either whole virus or protein directly to the nose of the animals. This presents the immune system components required to create a vaccine. The technology can be adapted for use with almost any infectious agent.

"There is great promise for vaccines based on this technology because they can be administered without the use of needles or refrigeration," Baker says. "Nanotechnology-based vaccines have tremendous opportunities for applications in developing countries."

NanoBio holds the exclusive world-wide license from U-M on the patented Nanostat™ technology. NanoBio's first product, a topical treatment for cold sores (a herpes virus infection), has completed Phase II human clinical trials and is positioned to advance to Phase III trials later this year. A second product, a topical treatment for nail fungus, also is scheduled to enter human trials this year.

Pre-clinical work on an influenza vaccine that could be applied directly to mucous membranes will begin this fall, followed by a clinical development program. Future products to treat antibiotic-resistant staphylococci and vaginal infections are planned.

The initial research that led to the development of this technology took place at U-M with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency. The vaccine work was funded by grants from the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. U-M has licensed the technology exclusively to NanoBio. In addition to holding an equity stake in the company, the University would receive royalties should the products achieve commercial success.

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