Boston Funding Funds Science

Two Boston startups win chance to test their products in space

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the winners of the coolest contest that we had never heard of: The Galactic Grant Challenge. The Challenge, announced in November of last year, is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).1 In a nutshell, the challenge allowed, “Massachusetts life sciences company in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices diagnostics or bioinformatics,” to submit proposals for up to $500,000 in grants and the chance to test their technology aboard the International Space Station (ISS). 2 The two winners are Boston startups Zaiput Flow Technologies and Nanobiosym.

Winners Two Boston startups win chance to test their products in space

Nanobiosym will test their Gene-RADAR system aboard the ISS. Gene-RADAR, put simply, is a device that analyzes blood, saliva or other body fluids and looks for disease causing microbes. The testing aboard the ISS is significant in that bacteria and microbes have been shown to mutate faster in micro-gravity. Ultimately, Nanobiosym will utilize the ISS testing to refine their models and algorithms to form better, ” predictive models for antibiotic resistant pathogen mutations, which will be of significant value to antibiotic drug development.”3 Dr. Anita Goel, Chairman and CEO of Nanobiosym, made a statement about the upcoming tests:

We will leverage the microgravity environment on the ISS to accelerate the Precision Medicine revolution here on Earth. Our ability to anticipate drug-resistant mutations with Gene-RADAR® will lead to next generation antibiotics that are more precisely tailored to stop the spread of the world‟s most dangerous pathogens.4

Zaiput Flow Technologies, another Boston startup, has a completely different aim. According to the release:

The company offers a wide variety of cutting-edge applications, including a microfluidic liquid-liquid separator used in continuous flow. The Galactic Grant project will explore the role that gravity currently has or may have on Zaiput‟s small-scale separation device. Besides having significant scientific value, the information gained from this work will be critical to define in detail the physics of the process, and will enable Zaiput to scale up its systems to flow rates suitable for chemical production.5