Slater Technology Fund Invests in ProThera Biologics
Commits $500,000 to Biomedical Startup Developing Novel Treatments for Sepsis, Cancer and Anthrax Intoxication
Providence, RI, June 24, 2008 – The Slater Technology Fund today announced that it has committed $500,000 in equity funding to ProThera Biologics, Inc., a biomedical startup based in East Providence, R.I. developing inter-alpha inhibitor proteins (IaIp) for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including sepsis, cancer and anthrax intoxication.
Co-founded in 2001 by Yow-Pin Lim, M.D., Ph.D. and Douglas C. Hixson, Ph.D., research scientists affiliated with Brown Medical School, ProThera is engaged in the development of diagnostic and therapeutic products based upon natural serine protease inhibitors known as inter-alpha inhibitor proteins (IaIp). Dr. Hixson is Professor of Medicine and Pathology at Brown University and Director of the Molecular Carcinogenesis Laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital, having joined the faculty at Brown in 1986. Dr. Lim first came to Brown as a post-doctoral research fellow in Dr. Hixson’s lab in 1990 and was appointed Assistant Professor (Research) of Medicine in 1993.
In connection with the Slater investment, ProThera has engaged Richard A. Andrews as an advisor to assist the company in its corporate and business development activities. Andrews was a co-founder of RenaMed Biologics (formerly Nephros Therapeutics), a developer of renal cell replacement therapies originally based in Lincoln, RI. Mr. Andrews has extensive experience in the development and management of new ventures in biologicals, diagnostics, and medical devices.
Commencing with an initial research grant of $100,000 from the Slater Technology Fund in 2001, ProThera has been awarded in excess of $3.5 million in grant funding from four different institutes of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Key uses of this funding will include the initiation of Phase I/IIa clinical trials in sepsis and expanding the use of IaIp in biodefense and potential pandemic threats (e.g. Avian flu). These investigations will be undertaken in collaboration with Steven M. Opal, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Brown University School of Medicine and Director of the Infectious Disease Division at Memorial Hospital, Pawtucket, RI.
Recent developments at ProThera include the award of a $200,000 grant from the Rhode Island Science and Technology Council (STAC) for a collaborative project to be conducted with Dr. Surendra Sharma, Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology at Brown University/Women and Infants’ Hospital focused on the use of IaIp in pregnancy-related complications. The company also recently completed a successful Phase I SBIR-funded study on the use of IaIp in the treatment of anthrax intoxication. Under this study, which was done in collaboration with Dr. Opal at the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Pathogens at the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, IaIp was shown to significantly contribute to in-vivo survival when used in combination with antibiotic therapy. ProThera expects to file for Phase II funding in the near future to continue these studies.
According to Andrew W. Artenstein, M.D., Physician-in-Chief of the Department of Medicine and Director of the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Pathogens at Memorial Hospital and Associate Professor of Medicine and Community Health at Brown University Medical School, “ProThera’s research with their lead molecule, IaIp, represents a potential major advance in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of serious and life-threatening infectious and non-infectious diseases for which current options are unavailable, limited, or unsatisfactory. Importantly, they have assembled collaborative research teams with some of the most highly regarded medical researchers in their respective fields. We are fortunate to have the kind of scientific expertise within the state that can optimize the chances for success. Dr. Opal, for example, is an internationally-recognized leader in the field of sepsis and overwhelming systemic infections and one of the most experienced researchers in this area.”
“ProThera has had tremendous success in recruiting clinical collaborators of national prominence and winning the support of federal funding agencies to advance the clinical development of its natural serine protease inhibitors,” said Richard G. Horan, senior managing director of the Slater Technology Fund. “With additional investment and with Rick Andrews coming on-board, we are excited about the prospects of accelerating the company’s efforts in the development of what promise to be significant advances in clinical medicine.”
About Slater Technology Fund
The Slater Technology Fund is a state-backed venture capital fund that invests in new companies 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.