Cincinnati-based Bacterial Robotics wins National Science Foundation grant

$150K award to develop tiny tumor-killing robots

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati-based Bacterial Robotics has won a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The company will use the Small Business Innovation Research money to develop tiny robots to eradicate skull-based tumors, said Bacterial Robotics CEO Jason Barkeloo.

It’s one of several types of bacterial robots – known as BactoBots – that the company is developing for various applications.

“The Apples and Microsofts of the synthetic biology industry are forming right now,” Barkeloo said in an email to WCPO. “I am excited Bacterial Robotics has the opportunity to be one of the leaders.”

Bacterial Robotics is developing the tiny robots called AuriBots to target and destroy abnormal skin growths known as cholesteatoma in the middle ear behind the eardrum. The idea is for the AuriBot to replace – or be used in conjunction with – the surgeries that are currently used to remove the tumors.

The technology is similar to the tiny robots that Bacterial Robotics subsidiary Pilus Energy developed to consume pollution in wastewater. Those BactoBots create energy as a byproduct.

Tauriga Sciences last month reached a deal to acquire Pilus Energy for an amount of Tauriga stock worth roughly $2 million.

“Within the last three to six months, Bacterial Robotics has kind of burst on the global scene in terms of interest,” said Alan Vicory, chairman of the board of Confluence. Confluence is a nonprofit working to attract more water technology businesses to the region and help grow the companies that are already here as WCPO and 91.7 WVXU reported in September .

“I look at Pilus as being one of our true shining stars here in the Cincinnati region,” Vicory said.

While the National Science Foundation grant is for Bacterial Robotics’ applications in the medical field, Vicory said it will also help shine a spotlight on the company’s water technology work.

The SBIR grant is effective Jan. 1, 2014, and expires June 30, 2014. It gives the company six months to continue developing its AuriBot.

If that stage of work is successful, the company will be able to apply for a Phase II grant worth as much as $750,000.

For more stories by Lucy May, go to www.wcpo.com/may .

 

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