Asalyxa Bio, Inc., a biopharmaceutical startup developing nano-engineered, immune cell-targeted therapeutics, just announced the closing of an over-subscribed seed financing round totaling more than $2 million. The funding was led by Research Bridge Partners, co-led by ID Ventures, and included Michigan Rise Pre-Seed Fund III, BRCC of Western Michigan University, Ann Arbor Spark, Woodward Angels and other undisclosed investors. The funding will be used to move Asalyxa Bio’s lead development candidate, ASX-100, toward first-in-human clinical trials. We previously highlighted Asalyxa Bio’s early work on Cronicle as the company, led by Asalyxa Bio and holding company OrangeGrove Bio CEO Marc Appel, applied their technology to addressing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome caused by COVID-19 and other diseases.
Traverse City’s 20Fathoms just announced its new HealthSpark Accelerator for digital and telehealth startups, to be held virtually starting April 12, 2021, running through June 30. Preference is given to Michigan companies, but the cohort is not restricted to Michigan only so the virtual format means this could be a great opportunity for a startup from any location. “HealthSpark is a 12-week high-intensity program,” 20Fathoms Executive Director Lauren Bigelow tells Cronicle. “We have pulled experts from across the country who are both leaders and practitioners,” she says, so that startup founders gain experience and can network with leaders in their space who know what it is to build a digital or telehealth startup on the ground.
If you’re seeking treatment for addiction, whether alcohol abuse or opioid or other substance abuse, there is now an option that brings the privacy and convenience of telemedicine to the entire process, from drug testing to medical followups to therapy. Workit Health is a medical tech startup out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, which recently closed on a Series A round of funding, and has drastically increased staff to handle the vast need for addiction recovery services in Michigan and beyond. The service recently expanded to California, New Jersey, Alaska, and Washington State.
During lockdown, Asalyxa Bio’s chief scientific officer Lola Eniola-Adefeso was one of the only people still working in Ann Arbor, where most work and scientific research was shut down to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Eniola-Adefeso was still working because she was one of a few scientists working on a treatment that could benefit the sickest COVID-19 patients, the ones who suffer from Acute Repiratory Distress Syndrome and cytokine storm. Eniola-Adefeso’s employer, new Ann Arbor biotech startup Asalyxa Bio, recently announced seed funding for its neutrophil targeting drug delivery technology to advance to first in-human trials next year. The tech can be used to target certain cells to treat Acute Repiratory Distress Syndrome, including the variety found in COVID-19 patients.
Tech on the Edge is an Ann Arbor a2tech360 event that highlights biotech companies working on new technologies for applications from sustainable energy to medical technologies. This year during a2tech360’s tech week, the event highlighted companies from the edge of Ann Arbor’s tech scene including Ecovia Renewables, which is working on eco-friendly super-absorbent materials. Like many other companies involved in this year’s Tech on the Edge, Ecovia is hiring. Stabilux Biosciences also is looking for formulation chemists, people with biology background and more. Many of these companies are looking for scientists of various kinds, CTOs and CFOs, and management, all in the life sciences and biotech.
For all of its historic challenges and unwelcome public health impacts, 2020 has been a not-so-subtle reminder of the critical importance of biomedical innovation. The world is figuratively holding its breath, counting on the promise of life-changing breakthroughs in vaccines and therapeutic treatment options to help us begin to get back to a pre-COVID normal. The power and potential of new ideas and new medicines has perhaps never been more evident. But bringing them to life and to market is not easy: it requires not only big ideas and expertise, but the technical and economic resources needed to infuse promising possibilities with the entrepreneurial energy that translates to practical results.
Launching a biotech startup is one of the most complex processes in new business. So what happens when a startup working on technology to identify pathogens in real-time has to roll with the punches during a pandemic? Joe Shanley serves as a consulting attorney and business consultant at Seraph Biosciences, a Detroit-based medical device company that has navigated an evolving technology platform, iterative software development process, and a multifaceted R&D strategy all while working with multiple stakeholders. We wanted to highlight the issues Seraph is navigating, because it’s a great illustration of what so many startups are handling right now. We hope that you find some ideas or encouragement in the story of Seraph’s progress growing a company during challenging times.
How Will We Track COVID-19 Symptoms As Americans Return To Work? An App Attempts To Identify Hotspots
How honest can we expect workers to be about symptoms of COVID-19 as they return to work they need for economic security and healthcare? Are employers or the government assuring worker job security when workers fall ill so that they can afford to miss work? These are some of the questions we’ve been mulling as Michigan Governor Whitmer announced her 6-phase plan for safely reopening the Michigan economy. States around the U.S. are reopening despite not reaching recommended milestones, and tensions are running high between people concerned about health versus disastrous employment numbers, including 48% of Detroiters losing their job in recent months.
Braden Shugarman is part of the latest cohort of startups supported by the Desai Venture Accelerator in Ann Arbor. He and his grandfather, Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Richard Shugarman, created Shugarman Surgical Innovations to market an improved eyelid speculum called SpecLite for certain ophthalmologic procedures. The original idea came back in September of 2014, when the elder Shugarman was working as a retinal specialist performing 30-50 intravitreal injections per day for people with certain eye disorders. He realized that for people receiving injections to retain and improve their eyesight with conditions such as macular degeneration and ocular edema, the current speculums available for the last 2 decades were functional but hadn’t improved much. To increase patient comfort and decrease complications and infections, Dr. Shugarman began to design a new speculum.
A microfluidic device invented at the University of Michigan and developed by U of M startup Optofluidic Bioassay may offer a cheaper, faster, and much more reliable antibody test than those currently being rushed to market to trace the spread of COVID-19. A microfluidic device is described by the company as a “lab on a chip,” meaning that it shrinks multiple lab testing functions onto a single chip just millimeters or centimeters in size. The technology enables faster results for coronavirus antibody testing with smaller sample sizes.