The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and TheraSource LLC, a Long Island-based biotech company, announce today that they have received a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to evaluate the effectiveness of a new drug for the treatment of sepsis. If proven correct, this therapy has the potential to reduce tissue damage and organ deterioration associated with sepsis all to help prevent loss of life.
Sepsis is a life-threatening, body-wide immune system reaction to an infection, which commonly presents symptoms such as fever, swelling, pain, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, chills and disorientation. It affects more than a million Americans annually — up to 50 percent of whom die.
This study, led by Max Brenner, MD, PhD, director of drug discovery at TheraSource, and Haichao Wang, PhD, professor and director of the Feinstein Institute’s Laboratory of Emergency Medicine will be testing whether TSA521, Dr. Wang’s invention derived from the herbal component tanshinone, can help reduce the effects of sepsis. Dr. Wang and his research team previously found that chemical derivatives of tanshinone, a component from the Chinese medicinal herb danshen or red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza), suppressed the release of damage-causing molecules in sepsis and improved survival rates in preclinical models of lethal sepsis.
“Researchers at the Feinstein Institute seek opportunities to develop their discoveries for commercialization through biotech companies like TheraSource so that patients can benefit,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.
“This grant is a first step in the process of developing TSA521 towards clinical use — our research team is grateful for the NIH’s support,” said Dr. Wang. “We are pleased to collaborate with TheraSource in an effort to develop a potential new therapy for patients suffering from sepsis, building on the work of other accomplished Feinstein Institute investigators such as Drs. John D’Angelo, Lance Becker, Kevin J. Tracey, Ping Wang, Yousef Al-Abed, and Wei Li.”
The study will have two phases. First it will determine TSA521’s optimal dose to treat sepsis. It will also examine TSA521’s safety and pharmacological parameters.
“The highly competitive Small Business Technology Transfer program provides critical funding to emerging bioscience companies to pursue innovative research with the potential to impact human health and society,” said Dr. Brenner. “We are honored to be selected for this type of program. Based on our preliminary studies, we feel that TSA521 has the potential to be developed as an effective therapeutic agent to treat patients with sepsis and septic shock and mitigate the damage caused by the condition.”
About the Feinstein Institute
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York. Home to 50 research laboratories and to clinical research throughout dozens of hospitals and outpatient facilities, the 3,500 researchers and staff of the Feinstein are making breakthroughs in molecular medicine, genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we empower imagination and pioneer discovery, visit FeinsteinInstitute.org.
TheraSource was founded in 2004 and registered in New York State as a limited liability company (LLC). TheraSource is driven, in large part, by developing novel anti-inflammatory agents such as recombinant proteins and peptides, for therapeutic use. TheraSource’s intellectual property portfolio has 14 patents covering 5 molecules for different disease indications, with three technologies being prioritized for preclinical development. At the moment, technologies being developed by TheraSource are at various stages of development, and the company is seeking partnerships to move them toward clinical stages. For more information, visit www.therasourceinc.com.
Heather E. Ball