INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis-based Scioto Biosciences Inc. has received a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for the company’s research on probiotics, which could lead to a treatment for necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. NEC is a disease that can seriously damage the intestine of premature babies. The company says its unique formulation would be used to deliver activated probiotic, so-called good bacteria, to the gastrointestinal tract in babies.

Scioto says when the wall of the intestine is attacked by bad bacteria in preterm infants, it can infect and inflame the bowel. If not treated, it can lead to a perforation in the intestine and the baby’s waste could end-up in the infant’s abdomen, creating even more serious complications.

“The NIH has been a wonderful partner in launching this platform. We are grateful for their support and are pleased to continue to work with them as we move this novel therapeutic into the clinic,” said Joe Trebley, Scioto CEO and co-Principal Investigator (PI) on the grant.

The Phase II SBIR grant will help Scioto continue its collaboration with the Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio on the proprietary therapeutic.

“This funding will be used to support important pre-clinical experiments prior to treating necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. The work here will be critical to inform upcoming clinical work to help combat these deadly GI disorders as well as other diseases,” said Dr. Besner, chief of Pediatric Surgery at Nationwide Children’s.

Nationwide says the exact cause of NEC is not known. It usually affects premature infants with low birth weight.