HSC spin-off company NanoRelease Technologies receives Recovery Act supplement funds for vaccine development training

July 14, 2009

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) — The Texas A&M Health Science Center (HSC) Center for Microencapsulation and Drug Delivery (CMDD) is hosting three students and a science educator who are trainees supported with National Institutes of Health American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for vaccine development training.

The small business grant recipient is NanoRelease Technologies LLC (NRT), an HSC spin-off company. Principal investigator of the grant is NRT President Allison Ficht, Ph.D., HSC Regents Professor and CMDD director in the HSC-College of Medicine.

The NRT trainees are visiting the CMDD today and Wednesday to learn about the newest “nano-methods” for vaccine and drug encapsulation. The work is focused on innovative formulations and purification of unique proteins that may improve delivery and reduce costs for vaccines. Applications of the technologies include many types of infectious disease vaccines including influenza, other viruses and bacteria. The ongoing work of NRT is focused on biodefense and diseases that can affect people and livestock such as Brucellosis.

“This grant is helping to fund training for the next generation of scientists who will need to be prepared to respond to emerging biological threats and pandemics,” Dr. Ficht said. “I am pleased that NRT and CMDD can play a role in this important effort. I am also delighted to have the opportunity to bring together students and faculty of various Texas institutions and industry through our pioneering technologies and collaborative research.”

Trainees include Marcos Oliveira, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy, who will train his students including UIW pharmacy major Matthew Hernandez, one of the summer trainees. Other summer trainees are Brian Fricke, biochemistry major at The University of Texas at Austin, and Nnenna Udensi, who is working on a master’s in biotechnology at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

“I am excited to visit the campus and to participate in an activity that not only brings value to my career and the education of my pharmacy students, but the overall experience also allows me to learn about how business brings new pharmaceutical products to market,” Dr. Oliveira said.

NRT is a spin-off from the CMDD and is incubated at TEKSA Innovations Corp. in San Antonio. NRT located to San Antonio because of its strong partnership with the biotechnology company INCELL and for access to clinical products development, vaccine manufacturing capabilities and biotechnology business support.

— Marketing & Communications