Emerging Austin-based biotech company NanoHybrids, Inc. was recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The company is currently developing clinical and pre-clinical medical solutions based on nanotechnology. The award will support the development of their targeted biocompatible imaging contrast agent, which is designed to improve the detection of high risk atherosclerotic plaques.
NanoHybrids is developing a contrast agent for intravascular imaging for Intravascular Ultrasound/Intravascular Photoacoustic (IVUS/IVPA) technologies in order to help identify macrophages in vulnerable plaques. The new technology will support physicians’ medical decisions in treating atherosclerosis and make treatment more cost-effective.
The system works by targeting the specific plaque features that are vulnerable to rupture, which are identified through intravascular imaging techniques. Even though the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques are responsible for about 70% of fatal acute myocardial infarctions and sudden coronary deaths, the techniques currently used to prevent it are limited and do not completely detect or image the macrophage activity, which is the main component of atherosclerotic plaque features.
IVUS imaging, on the other hand, has gained acceptance within the clinical market, as it has been proven to be safe, efficient, and portable. NanoHybrids has complemented IVUS imaging technology with IVPA imaging and molecular contrast agents, which in turn can provide comprehensive examination and diagnostic data for physicians without requiring additional procedures to establish a diagnosis.
“The NanoHybrids team is excited about the grant since it represents a step forward in our journey towards the clinic. Our targeted solution has the potential to generate significant clinical impact since identifying vulnerable plaques prior to disruption will enable appropriate therapies which, in turn can reduce the rate of heart attack and stroke,” said Dr. Justin Harris, principal investigator for the grant at NanoHybrids.
The grant is a Phase I SBIR, which was given by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, an NIH organization, to support this stage of development of the system. In addition to being focused on the detection of atherosclerotic plaques, the company has also been commercializing nanotechnology solutions to improve the non-invasive detection, molecular profiling, and treatment of other diseases, such as cancer.
NanoHybrids’ product line includes nano-sized agents designed to increase contrast in pre-clinical biomedical imaging techniques through the interaction between diseased cells, enabling selective real-time imaging of functional biology. The company has recently announced the creation of Gold nanorod agents, a new line of imagining contrast products for the medical industry.