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ArunA Biomedical, Inc. in Athens, GA awarded more than $79,000 for Developmental Neurotox Assay Using Scalable Neurons and Astrocytes in High-Content Imaging

Release Date: 06/13/2013
Contact Information: William McBride, 404-562-8378 (direct), 404-562-8400 (main),

Atlanta – Aruna Biomedical Inc., has been awarded more than $79,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to study developmental neurotox assay using scalable neurons and astrocytes in high-content imaging.

The objective of this proposed project and the EPA Computational Toxicology program’s goals are aligned in assessing chemicals for potential risk to human health and the environment through the use of more representative multicellular human developmental neurotoxicology assays. ArunA Biomedical will develop a rapid, scalable, human pluripotent stem cell-derived cell-based coculture assay system to address a critical gap where animal developmental neurotoxicity testing for a single compound can be financially prohibitive (in excess of $1 million) and time consuming (up to 1.5 yrs). ArunA will manufacture pluripotent stem cell-derived neural cells using a patented system to generate functional neurons and astrocyte cultures, more closely mimicking the developing human nervous system than single cell-type assays.

In Phase I, object 1, ArunA will further refine a scalable and rapid means of generating enriched astrocytes form ArunA-based hNP1™ technology and cryopreserve them for use with hN2™ neurons, all within 48 hours post thaw. In objective 2 assays, specifically controlling the neuron to astrocyte ratio will occur, providing a flexible platform to more closely mimic ratios observed in the developing nervous system. In the last task, these co-cultures will be exposed to increasing doses of Pb acetate given its known effects on astrocytes and in light of EPA published direct effects on hN2™ neurons. The number of chemicals in the neurotoxicity training set will be increased in Phase II and contemporary comparisons made to commercial animal and human primary cell sources of neuron and astrocyte products to further validate ArunA’s developmental neurotoxicity assay.

EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program funds innovative research resulting in new commercial products, processes and services that protect the environment, benefit the public, and promote the growth of small businesses. This year’s projects focus on drinking water, wastewater, manufacturing, green building, waste monitoring and management, air quality, sustainable use of biomass and homeland security.

Nationally, SBIR awarded more than $2 million to 25 small businesses nationwide to develop new environmental technologies that will help protect people’s health and the environment. Each of the 25 companies will receive an SBIR Phase I contract of up to $80,000 to further develop their technology over the next six months. Once the project has been demonstrated to be commercially viable, then companies are eligible to compete for a Phase II award of up to $300,000 to commercialize their technology. To be eligible to participate in the SBIR program, a company must be an organized for-profit U.S. business, and have fewer than 500 employees.

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