Charleston, S.C. (Aug. 25, 2016) - Neuroene Therapeutics, a startup company born from unique research by two Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) investigators, secured a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $225,000 in July from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Neuroene Therapeutics is using the Phase I STTR grant to help further develop a novel class of compounds for treating epilepsy. In the U.S. alone, epilepsy's estimated direct and indirect costs total $15.5 billion, according to the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences.
"This class of compounds has a new molecular mechanism that makes it different from any of the current anti-seizure drugs available to patients with epilepsy," said Neuroene Therapeutics Chief Operating Officer and co-founder Sherine Chan, Ph.D., MUSC associate professor of drug discovery and biomedical sciences. "An estimated 30 to 40 percent of epilepsy patients do not have sufficient control of their seizures with current treatments. We intend to provide a new generation of anti-seizure drugs that is clearly needed."
Launched in May 2015, Neuroene Therapeutics is based on Chan's collaborative research with James Chou, Ph.D., MUSC associate professor of drug discovery and biomedical sciences. Chou is also a Neuroene Therapeutics co-founder and serves as chief executive officer. Their focus is on vitamin K analogs, not only for epilepsy but also other difficult to treat neurological disorders. Studies at MUSC and NINDS reveal that these compounds produce fewer side effects than current treatments, as vitamin K is a safe macronutrient essential for health and function of the central nervous system. (Learn more at neuroenetherapeutics.com.)
The MUSC Foundation for Research Development (FRD) assisted Chan and Chou in establishing the startup company and also guided them through the STTR application as well as other grant opportunities.
The S.C. Research Authority has awarded a separate $50,000 grant to Neuroene Therapeutics, as announced earlier this summer.
"It's exciting for us to see funding opportunities open up for Neuroene Therapeutics' leaders as they develop better alternatives for treating epilepsy and other neurological disorders that disrupt the lives of so many people," said FRD Executive Director Michael Rusnak.
As the university's technology transfer office, FRD manages intellectual property based on MUSC research and finds corporate partners to translate technology into products. In fall 2014, FRD launched a program to assist the MUSC startup community with STTR and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant applications. As a result, STTR and SBIR grant applications to advance MUSC intellectual property tripled from an average of five annually to 15 in fiscal year 2015, followed by 16 applications in fiscal year 2016.
Those efforts have resulted in notable successes this year, including Neuroene Therapeutics' STTR grant as well as a $211,000 Phase I STTR grant awarded this spring to CuRE Innovations, LLC, a dental materials startup company based on inventions by MUSC faculty.
About Neuroene Therapeutics
Neuroene Therapeutics is a startup biotechnology company developing novel Vitamin K-based therapeutics for neurological disorders such as epilepsy. The company originated from collaborative research between Medical University of South Carolina investigators James Chou, Ph.D., and Sherine Chan, Ph.D., who cofounded and continue to lead Neuroene Therapeutics. Visit us at neuroenetherapeutics.com.
About MUSC Foundation for Research Development
FRD has served as MUSC's technology transfer office since 1998. During that period, FRD has filed patent applications on more than 400 technologies, resulting in over 150 U.S. issued patents. Additionally, FRD has executed more than 150 licenses and spun out more than 50 startup companies. MUSC startups have had products approved by the FDA and acquired by publicly traded corporations while attracting substantial investment dollars into South Carolina. Innovations from MUSC, including medical devices, therapies and software, are positively impacting health care worldwide. Please visit us online at frd.musc.edu.
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $2.2 billion. MUSC operates a 700-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (a National Cancer Institute-designated center), Level I Trauma Center, and Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic programs or clinical services, visit musc.edu. For more information on hospital patient services, visit muschealth.org.