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Posted: January 4, 2008
Med Spinoff Eyes Nanofibers
(Nanowerk News) A successful Chattanooga start-up has launched a spin-off company that will specialize in medical applications of nanotechnology.
Jayesh Doshi, the founder of nanofibers business eSpin Technologies Inc., has teamed up with Chattanooga physician Raymond DeBarge to start Notus Laboratories Inc.
Notus is focusing on developing nanofiber-based medical products and bringing them to market, Dr. Doshi said. The company is named after Notus, the Greek god of the south wind.
Dr. Doshi, a former DuPont scientist, formed eSpin in 1998 and operated it from the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Business Development Center. He moved that business to a warehouse in the Enterprise South industrial park in 2004 and began manufacturing nanofibers there.
In addition to medical uses, nanofibers, with a diameter 1,000 times smaller than that of a human hair, can be used in numerous applications including outdoor apparel.
Notus was formed by Dr. Doshi and Dr. DeBarge in July 2006 with a $200,000 investment and is currently housed in the Business Development Center on Cherokee Boulevard with three employees.
Dr. Doshi said that in the past year the company began to become active, and faculty members in the biology and chemistry departments at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga worked with the pair to get the business off the ground.
The company is in the midst of what the investors are calling a "team-building" phase.
They are recruiting professionals with experience in marketing medical products and in working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The company is raising $3 million in venture capital so that it can assemble that team and bring the products to the market, Dr. Doshi said.
"Some of the products have already been developed," he said. "So most of the effort at that company is going to be marketing new products in the medical area."
Those products include nanofiber materials that could be used to absorb blood during surgery, similar to the way that gauze and sponges work. But these products, because they are made with the nanofibers, are thinner, lighter and can absorb more fluid. Dr. DeBarge said the company has an 18-month timeline for getting these products into the marketplace.
Other long-term products Notus is working on include nanofiber materials that can be used to deliver medications to patients through their skin. Those type of products require an extensive approval process from the FDA, and therefore would not be ready for the market for three to five years, Dr. DeBarge said.
"That's the brave new world, the frontier, that we are looking at, primarily, with nanotechnology right now," said Dr. DeBarge, an ophthalmologist and assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Chattanooga.
Jim Frierson, the Chattanooga member of the Tennessee Biotechnology Association, attended an event last month where Dr. Doshi and Dr. DeBarge gave presentations about Notus to industry professionals and potential investors. He said the people in the room saw what the business could mean for the city.
"That has really great implications for Chattanooga, because Dr. DeBarge is here and that research is done here," Mr. Frierson said.
Dr. Doshi said that since the presentation in December, the company already has had interest from the biotechnology association member companies and investors from Atlanta and Silicon Valley.
Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press (Amy O. Williams)