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Felix Biotechnology Awarded Competitive Grant from the National Science Foundation to Power Phage Engineering Platform

September 2, 2021 GMT

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Sept. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Felix Biotechnology a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant for $256,000 to further enhance their machine learning-based approach for engineering bacteriophage as a novel treatment for drug-resistant bacterial infections.

Bacteriophage, or phage, are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. Phage have key benefits relative to small molecule antibiotics, but there are several hurdles to turning phage into a true biotherapeutic. First, like traditional antibiotics, bacteria can become resistant to phage. Second, due to their specificity, finding the right phage to treat an infection can be challenging. Felix has made significant headway in addressing the first hurdle. The NSF SBIR grant will support Felix’s efforts to address the second hurdle by engineering phage for improved efficacy and utility, starting with proof-of-concept work in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen of high clinical need.


“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF.

“The NSF funding will supercharge our high-throughput methodologies for fast and economical identification and characterization of phage and phage-bacteria interactions. These rich datasets power our ML and genetic engineering tools, creating a platform for tuning phage specificity and producing phage products targeting dangerous human pathogens, like P. aeruginosa and Mycobacterium abscessus,” said Felix Biotechnology co-founder and principal investigator on the grant, Natalie Ma, PhD.

Phase I SBIR awardees are eligible to apply for Phase II awards of up to $1 million. Small businesses with Phase II funding are eligible for $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.

“Felix is tackling the most challenging technical hurdles limiting the broad application of phage therapy to the clinic. With the antimicrobial resistance crisis only growing, new solutions to treat bacterial infections are absolutely essential for ensuring our global future health,” said Dr. Ma.

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SOURCE Felix Biotechnology, Inc.