Plakous Therapeutics announced that it received more than $1.7 million in a research grant from he Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Phase I-II fast-track small business innovation research (SBIR) grant, worth up to $1.725 million, is slated to help Plakous develop novel therapies for preventing the necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) disease in premature babies. The grant is set to supplement Plakous’ currently open $4 million seed round.

Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Plakous develops the Protego-PD system to prevent NEC by accelerating intestinal maturation of premature infants. Protego-PD is an orally delivered acellular biotherapeutic developed from post-delivery placentas.

The company’s chief scientific officer Seth Tomblyn will be the principal investigator for the three-year project funded by the grant, according to a news release.

“This grant, combined with our recent orphan drug and rare pediatric disease designations from the FDA, allows Plakous to take the next steps toward preventing NEC, which has no approved treatment or diagnostic tests,” Plakous CEO Robert Boyce said in the release. “Plakous is delighted to receive the SBIR grant from the NIH, which validates our scientific and business approach.”