CONTACT: Christina Winn, Executive Director Prince William County Department of Economic Development Email: [email protected] | Phone: 703.792.5510

U.S. DOD Agency Awards Prince William Science Accelerator-based Ceres Nanosciences $750,000 to Commercialize Nanotrap® Particles Test for Zika and Other Infectious Diseases

February 27, 2017 - Prince William County, Va. – Prince William Science Accelerator-based, Ceres Nanosciences, Inc., recently announced it has received $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop commercialized sample processing tools, based on its proprietary Nanotrap® Particles platform, for the improved detection of the Zika virus and other emerging infectious diseases.

According to Ceres Nanosciences Inc., Nanotrap captures, enriches and preserves the most valuable biomarkers, enabling early and accurate detection of diseases such as cancer, cardiac, and infectious diseases, resulting in improved patient outcomes and reduced health care costs. 

“The Nanotrap is able to rapidly concentrate and detect viruses at extremely low levels, from non-invasively collected samples, such as urine, which allows for easier and more accurate diagnosis of Zika and other emerging pathogens,” said Ben Lepene, Chief Technology Officer and R&D Director, Ceres Nanosciences. “The universal nature of Nanotrap technology and our ability to pair it with existing tests will provide many opportunities for improved detection and pathogen identification in all settings, ranging from point-of-care to high-volume clinical laboratories.”

“We’re excited for Ceres Nanosciences future and delighted that the Prince William Science Accelerator’s close ties with the George Mason University Science & Technology Campus, is generating a new synergy for biotech startups that is moving them forward to commercialization,” said Jeffrey A. Kaczmarek, Executive Director, Prince William County Department of Economic Development.

Under the year-long DARPA program, Ceres Nanosciences will work in collaboration with George Mason University (Mason) to adapt the Nanotrap Particles platform to detect a variety of infectious diseases through urine and saliva samples, suitable for point-of-care (POC) and clinical laboratory testing.  Additionally, the biotechnology company will use the adapted Nanotrap technology to demonstrate its ability to extend the current detection window to earlier and later time points.​

The Nanotrap particle technology was invented at Mason with funding support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is currently being developed into commercial products with support from NIH, DARPA, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

This program follows a recent announcement of the completion of a $3 million Series A financing with GreyBird Ventures, an early-stage venture fund firm.  This funding will support the acceleration to market of a highly-sensitive diagnostic test for Lyme disease, known as the Lyme Antigen Test.

Last year, Ceres Nanosciences received a $980K award from the U.S. Department of Defense to adapt Nanotrap to capture immune makers from non-invasive sample types, in collaboration with Tufts University and Mason.  That same year, the company was also recognized as one of Greater Washington’s pioneers of innovation by the Washington Business Journal.

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About Ceres Nanosciences, Inc.

Ceres Nanosciences, a Prince William Science Accelerator startup company, is a privately held company focused on the development of research and diagnostic products using its unique and proprietary Nanotrap® biomarker capture particle technology.  Ceres Nanosciences’ business goals are to develop a number of commercial applications of the Nanotrap for high-demand diagnostics and other needs in the life sciences industry.  To learn more visit:

About the Prince William Science Accelerator

Located in the heart of Prince William County’s Science and Technology hub at Innovation Park, the Prince William Science Accelerator is a premier life sciences incubation facility, which features 9 fully built out, commercially available wet labs – the only commercially available wet lab space in Northern Virginia.  Competitive lease rates, flexible terms, the availability of location incentives as well as a full complement of amenities are just some of the reasons why the Science Accelerator is an ideal option particularly for small and growing life sciences companies. To learn more visit:


  • Located less than 20 miles from the nation’s capital, Prince William County encompasses a total area of 348 square miles and is the second largest county in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Innovation Park is a 1500-acre university-centered corporate research park located in Prince William County.  Anchored by the George Mason University Science and Technology Campus, the park’s tenants span the gamut of IT, biosciences, data center and federal institutions.  The Park is home to approximately thirty companies employing over 2,000 persons.
  • In Summer 2014, Prince William County launched Northern Virginia’s first and only commercially available public-private wet lab spaces – the Prince William Science Accelerator, adjacent to George Mason University – Science & Technology Campus.
  • In 2016, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) presented a $50,000 check to Prince William County as a grant award to the Prince William Science Accelerator, which was one of only two Northern Virginia winners of the SBA’s 3rd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.


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The Prince William County Department of Economic Development offers services to support and promote existing business expansion and attract new businesses to PWC. For more information, the Department of Economic Development can be reached via email at [email protected], via phone at (703) 792-5500, or via fax at (703) 792-5502.