Biotech start-up Codagenix wins $600G grant
Codagenix, a biotech start-up company based in Stony Brook, has won a $600,000 federal grant to develop computer-generated viruses that drugmakers use to produce vaccines.
The company uses algorithms to design harmless copycats of deadly viruses that are far more realistic than the replicas currently used by pharmaceutical companies, said Rob Coleman, Codagenix's vice president of business development.
"It is a debilitated virus that looks exactly like a killer one," he said. For more than a century, scientists have been producing vaccines by slowly mutating viruses through trial and error until the virulent bugs become harmless to humans. Codagenix's computerized method, developed at Stony Brook University, is designed to speed up the process, eliminate the guesswork and produce knock-off viruses that make stronger vaccines.
The company's effort to develop the procedure fits into a larger effort by Stony Brook, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and other Long Island research institutions to help local scientists turn research into commercial products. Ultimately, officials hope Long Island will become a hub for biotechnical companies that will boost job growth and fuel the region's economy.
The grant, from the National Institutes of Health, provides $300,000 annually for two years, with an option of $1 million annually for three years afterward if the company hits certain performance standards.
Codagenix launched last year, building on research developed in the laboratory of Stony Brook University professor Eckard Wimmer. It is now based at Stony Brook's Long Island High Technology Incubator and has three employees, with plans to expand to five.