A New Orleans company assisted by LSU’s business incubator has received a $1.1 million federal grant to develop technology to help determine the potential shelf life of new protein-drug formulations.

Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies Inc. has been awarded the grant under the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

The funding will support the development of technology that shows whether protein-based drugs in solutions, or liquids, can be stored long-term, said Alex Reed, CEO and cofounder of Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies.

“One of the big issues we’ve seen in pharmaceutical application is the stability of these new therapeutic proteins that are very expensive,” Reed said.

Developing the treatments can cost pharmaceutical companies millions of dollars, so it’s critical to find out whether the drug candidates are stable, Reed said. Pharmaceutical companies have evaluated potential drug formulations by putting them on shelves and testing them every three to six months.

Advanced Polymer’s equipment, a hardware-software solution, can monitor 16 different experiments at the same time and put the drug formulations through storage stresses more rapidly, Reed said.

“If we can give them a trend pretty quickly, then we might be able to really cut that development time on the formulation, so that’s huge for them,” Reed said.

The company is running samples for a lot of big pharma companies to demonstrate the value of the technology, he said.

Advanced Polymer worked with the Louisiana Business and Technology Center at LSU on a Phase 0 SBIR grant to help secure the National Science Foundation funding. The center operates the program through the Louisiana Technology Transfer Office at LSU Innovation Park and the NASA Stennis Space Center.

LBTC provided $2,000 to Advanced Polymer to write the grant application to the National Science Foundation, said Charles D’Agostino, executive director of the business and technology center. LBTC gets $30,000 a year in SBIR funding, enough to help 15 companies hire a consultant, apply for a grant or visit companies that need their technology.

The program is designed to help small businesses find federal innovation research and development funding, he said. In 2016 alone, LBTC helped facilitate SBIR grants for several Louisiana companies, including:

  • Bascom Hunter Technologies Inc., a Baton Rouge communications firm that received $500,000 through the U.S. Department of Defense to develop technology that removes interference from wireless networks.
  • Inventherm, a Baton Rouge engineering and manufacturing firm that received $1 million from the Department of Defense for mobile military refrigeration technology.
  • InnoGenomics Technologies LLC, a New Orleans biotech company that received $250,000 from the National Science Foundation to further its forensic DNA identification and cancer diagnosis technology.

Entrepreneurs can learn more about the program at the 2016 Small Business Innovation Research-Small Business Technology Transfer Gulf Coast Conference, set for April 4-6 at the New Orleans Bioinnovation Center.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.