SBP spin-out company micro-gRx receives $200,000 Space Florida award
We're excited to announce that the first funded company established based on work emerging from our Lake Nona campus, micro-gRx Incorporated, has received a $200,000 award from Space Florida through the Florida – Israel Innovation Partnership Program. micro-gRx is partnering with R&D company SpacePharma to develop a “lab on a chip” research model that enables scientists to study live human cells in microgravity.
“We are extremely grateful for this funding,” said Siobhan Malany, Ph.D., founder and president of micro-gRx and chemical biology team leader in the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics. “The seed funds will enable SpacePharma and our team here in Orlando to develop a next-generation ‘lab on a chip’ for use in pharmaceutical disease modeling in a reduced-gravity environment. The purpose of doing this in a reduced gravity setting is to understand biological changes that could benefit human health on Earth and in space. It could also help in the development of tools for medicine, pharmacology, and biology for research applications in reduced gravity and gravity.”
The partners will develop a fully automated, miniaturized cell-culturing lab capable of tracking, over time, expression levels of protein biomarkers in human stem cell-derived cell types, including skeletal muscle and immune cells. The “lab on a chip” design is based on microfluidics technology and will be a first, state-of-the-art, end-to-end device that will provide users with an automated workflow for performing human cell-based assays in microgravity for human disease research and disease modeling.
“It is always thrilling to be able to engender new scientific research and breakthroughs,” said Space Florida President Frank DiBello in a written statement. “With these new round of awards, Space Florida and Israel are helping to further scientific discovery for the benefit of our countries and the whole world.”
Initiated in 2013, the Florida – Israel Innovation Partnership Program is a joint program between the state of Florida and Israel to support research, development, and commercialization of aerospace and technology projects that benefit both states. In addition to micro-gRx, three other Florida-based companies will receive funding as part of the program this year: Cella Energy, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and General Capacitor.
While micro-gRx is the recipient of this award, the initial research will be contracted to SBP at Lake Nona, where Institute scientists have experience in developing human stem cell-derived assays for biomedical research. Previously, in 2012, Malany led an SBP team effort to devise a microgravity research project that was successfully conducted on board the International Space Station.