April 22, 2021

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Announces $750,000 Investment Supporting Three Lowell-based Companies

Today, the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) announced a $750,000 investment supporting three Lowell-based companies. Decoy Therapeutics, EnVision Endoscopy, and Haystack Diagnostics will receive a $250,000 investment in the form of a convertible note. All three companies are locating to the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) located at the UMass Lowell campus. Earlier this week, MLSC President and CEO Kenn Turner toured the Lowell campus, which included visits to M2D2 and MLSC-funded Perry Hall.

“Lowell remains a standout example of the growth and success that is possible as we work to expand opportunities to develop and strengthen our regional clusters of life sciences businesses across Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Housing & Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as Co-Chair of the MLSC Board of Directors. “The MLSC is a major driver of this strategy as it looks to accelerate innovation in academia, industry, and at every level of the life sciences sector.”

“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and helping drive advancements across the life-sciences sector,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan, who also serves as MLSC Board Co-Chair. “The Commonwealth’s innovation economy greatly benefits from the MLSC’s consistent support and steadfast focus alongside critical industry partners to drive economic, workforce, and scientific development throughout Massachusetts.”

The MLSC awarded the three convertible note investments through its Seed Fund, in which companies receive up to $250,000 to support novel innovations in all life sciences sectors, including Diagnostics, Digital Health/Bioinformatics, Medical Devices, MedTech, and Therapeutics. In August 2020, the MLSC announced $750,000 in Seed Fund awards for three Worcester-based early-stage, life sciences companies: 149 Medical, iVexSol, and Nutrimedy. EnVision Endoscopy, Decoy Therapeutics, and Haystack Diagnostics are three of the latest arrivals to M2D2, a joint venture of UMass Lowell and UMass Medical School in Worcester, which assists entrepreneurs with all aspects of moving new products and technologies from concept to commercialization.

“M2D2 and the broader UMass Lowell campus remains a vital partner to spurring life sciences activity to the Merrimack Valley,” said President Turner. “We are excited by the prospects of these three enterprises and know they are locating to a thriving cluster in Lowell, home to a number of additional MLSC portfolio companies.”

“UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center are grateful for the ongoing support of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center as together we champion the pioneering advances in research and development and innovations in health care that are reshaping the life sciences sector and seek to improve health outcomes for countless individuals. Ours is a dynamic partnership and we look forward to many fruitful collaborations ahead,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney.

More on the awardees:

Decoy Therapeutics is a preclinical stage biotech company building a pandemic preparedness drug development platform using AI design of peptide ‘decoys’ that directly interfere with viral replication machinery. Decoy’s lead product, SARS-Guard™, is a nasal spray being developed for SARS-Cov-2 prevention and early treatment as a complement to vaccines. SARS-Guard™ is expected to be equally effective against all SARS-CoV-2 variants. Published preclinical data demonstrate that peptide decoys are effective against a broad spectrum of coronaviruses and enveloped viruses.

EnVision Endoscopy, Inc. is developing novel devices for gastrointestinal endoscopic surgery for use in procedures that have traditionally required intensive care, long and costly hospital stays, and high rates of morbidity and mortality. The therapeutic site, accessed with flexible endoscopes through natural body orifices without incisions, can result in faster patient recovery, reduced number of days at the hospital, and an overall reduced cost of care.

Haystack Diagnostics, Inc. has developed a complete solution to address the clinical unmet need to improve the diagnostic procedure for neuromuscular disorders (NMDs), improve patient care, and delivering a technology at an affordable cost. The company invented a patent-pending needle impedance electromyography (iEMG) enhanced technology to improve the diagnosis and means for monitoring the therapeutic treatment of those patients suffering from NMDs.

Recently, M2D2 hosted its annual pitch contest, the M2D2 $200k Challenge, showcasing the inventions of early-stage medical device, diagnostic and biotech companies that are poised to revolutionize health care. This year’s grand prizewinner was AcousticaBio, a Cambridge-based company that has developed a means to reformulate intravenous medications so they can be administered via an injection under the skin. The startup will receive $50,000 in seed funding to advance the invention from the MLSC, the event’s top sponsor and founding sponsor of M2D2, along with $27,000 of in-kind services from M2D2 and Amgen, another event sponsor.

In addition to its core mission assisting client companies, M2D2 and UMass Lowell are participating in the National Institutes of Health initiative to speed innovation, development and commercialization of COVID-19 testing technologies via the Center for Advancing Point of Care Technologies (CAPCaT) collaboration.  With a $1.5 billion investment from federal stimulus funding, the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program is infusing funding into early innovative technologies to speed development of rapid and widely accessible COVID-19 testing. CAPCaT is supporting projects to develop and optimize novel point-of-care technologies to improve the diagnosis and management of disease – a key component of the RADx initiative.