Slater-Backed Biomedical Company Awarded Nearly $3 Million in Grant Funding, Achieves Additional Progress Toward Commercialization
ProThera Biologics Executes Licensing Agreement with Lifespan and Wins First Place in R.I. Business Plan Competition
Providence, R.I., June 16, 2010 – The Slater Technology Fund today announced that ProThera Biologics, Inc. has achieved considerable progress as it moves toward the commercialization of its Inter-Alpha Inhibitor Proteins (IaIp), naturally occurring serine protease inhibitors with potential to treat life-threatening conditions resulting from severe systemic inflammation and infections. The company recently received a Phase II small business innovative research (STTR) grant of $2.7 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand its research in the development of therapies for treating anthrax intoxication and infection. The company, as part of a research alliance, also won a second grant from the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) in amount of $200,000 for a research project on fetal brain injury.
ProThera also announced the signing of a licensing agreement with Lifespan on patents obtained as a result of research originating in the labs at Rhode Island Hospital dating back to the early 2000s. In addition, the company recently won first place in the entrepreneur track in the 2010 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition.
ProThera will use the latest funding from the NIH to conduct a pivotal study in large animals to confirm the efficacy of IaIp for biodefense applications, specifically anthrax intoxication. ProThera’s proprietary technology blocks the harmful anthrax toxin, and prevents the severe – usually fatal – inflammation that follows. If the efficacy of the novel treatment is confirmed, ProThera’s IaIp treatment will be added to the nation’s biodefense stockpile.
ProThera will use the funding from STAC for a research project on fetal brain injury. The project, which represents a collaborative effort between Women & Infants, the University of Rhode Island and ProThera, will focus on the development of novel preventative strategies for brain damage in premature infants.
ProThera was co-founded in 2001 by Yow-Pin Lim, M.D., Ph.D., and Douglas Hixson, Ph.D., both researchers at Lifespan/RI Hospital with academic appointments at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Starting with a research grant in amount of $100,000 from the Slater Technology Fund, the company since inception has been awarded in excess of $6 million in grant funding from various federal and state-based grant funding sources. In 2008, the company announced a funding commitment from Slater in the amount of $500,000 in equity investment.
“ProThera represents a particularly compelling example of the potential that exists in entrepreneurial startups emerging from the labs at biomedical research institutions here in Rhode Island,” said Richard G. Horan, senior managing director of the Slater Technology Fund. “The company has leveraged seed funding from Slater to attract over 10X our investment in additional funding, primarily in the form of SBIR grants from NIH. These are high-value, high-wage jobs being created at ProThera, with expansion planned later this year through a consortium of clinical collaborators based here in Rhode Island.”
“The Lifespan hospital system is proud of our support for ProThera, and of the important discovery research that they are conducting here in Rhode Island,” said Peter Snyder, vice president of research at Lifespan. “We remain supportive of and excited by their recent successes.”
“We could not be more pleased with the support we have had from both Lifespan and the Slater Fund as we have advanced our research from the laboratory into commercial development,” said Dr. Lim, cofounder and CSO of ProThera. “Winning the Business Plan Competition is additional evidence of the progress being made. The focus now is preparing ourselves to enter the clinic, which we hope to occur before year-end 2010.”
About Slater Technology Fund
The Slater Technology Fund is a state-backed venture capital fund that invests in new ventures committed to basing and building their businesses in Rhode Island. Slater focuses its resources on the support of entrepreneurs who have the vision, leadership and commitment to build substantial commercial enterprises. Slater typically invests at the inception stage in the development of a new venture, often based upon ideas and technologies originating in academic institutions and/or government research laboratories located within the region. In most cases, investments are premised upon the possibility of raising substantial follow-on financing, from venture capital investors or from strategic partners, with a view toward accelerating the generation of significant numbers of high-value, high-wage jobs over the intermediate to longer-term. For more information, visit www.slaterfund.com.
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Laura Nelson or Jeff Lavery
SVM Public Relations