Pharma

Cell culture firm Nanofiber Solutions eyes $1.5M investment, partnerships

A  medical laboratory equipment company whose technology is used to test cancer drugs is hoping to land an investment of up to $1.5 million and a strategic partnership with a bigger company. A partnership deal would help Nanofiber Solutions to get its cell-culture technology into the hands of more researchers and drug developers. Columbus, Ohio-based […]

A  medical laboratory equipment company whose technology is used to test cancer drugs is hoping to land an investment of up to $1.5 million and a strategic partnership with a bigger company.

A partnership deal would help Nanofiber Solutions to get its cell-culture technology into the hands of more researchers and drug developers.

Columbus, Ohio-based Nanofiber Solutions sells cell culture dishes  that are filled with polymer nanofibers that more accurately simulate the 3-D structure of human tissue. Most lab testing occurs on human cells that are placed in flat, plastic cell-culture dishes and plates, which the company says yields less-accurate results.

The two-year-old Ohio State University  spinoff started selling its products earlier this year and has tasted some early success with about 15 paying customers, according to founder and Chief Technology Officer Jed Johnson, who hatched the idea for the company when he was a doctoral student at OSU.

Most of Nanofiber Solutions’s customers fall into one of three categories: pharmaceutical companies, stem cell developers and research institutions. The company’s nanofiber-filled culture dishes are especially effective for studying the migration of cancer cells, Johnson said.

Now, the company is looking for a cash infusion to ramp up production of its cell-culture plates, but Johnson said the company is looking for more than money. Ideally, the investment would come from a bigger player in the life sciences research market like Becton Dickinson, Corning or Millipore. That strategic partnership would then open up marketing channels for Nanofiber Solutions and help  the young company acquire new customers, the thinking goes. As an added bonus, the strategic partner would then become a potential acquirer of the Ohio startup.

“We go back and forth on angel investors, but we’re really looking more for more of a strategic partner rather than a pure cash infusion,” Johnson said. “If we go the angel route, we wouldn’t necessarily get new leads or business.”

Nanofiber Solutions has raised about $500,000 in investment funding over its lifetime.

The company also hopes to take advantage of increased market demand. In addition to medical products, nanofibers are used in a host of other applications,  including filtration and energy.

The nanofiber products market was $80.7 million in 2009, according to BCC Research. That market is forecast to reach $2.2 billion in total revenue by 2020. Mechanical and chemical applications account for more than 70 percent of that market right now.

Other medical applications of nanofiber include an Oregon company, HemCon Medical Technologies, which has developed a bandage employing nanofibers that consists of different layers that can absorb fluids, deliver antibiotics and stop blood. Brown University scientists are developing a nanofiber patch for the heart that is intended to help the regeneration of dead cardiac tissue.