AUSTIN, TX—November 30, 2009—Terapio Corporation, a development stage biotechnology company based in Austin, Texas, today announced it has secured $5 million in equity financing from Santé Ventures.
Terapio is developing a pipeline of therapeutic applications based on the unique properties RLIP76, a transport protein that helps move large molecules across the cell membrane. The first application of Terapio’s technology is as a radiation countermeasure, which has been demonstrated by the company in animal studies in which the protein significantly increased overall survival of mice exposed to otherwise lethal doses of radiation, even when the protein is administered orally after radiation exposure. In this case, RLIP76 helps mitigate the harmful effects of ionizing radiation and chemical toxins by providing cells with an increased ability to tolerate the oxidative stresses associated with reactive glutathione S‐conjugates. A second application is in drug delivery, exploiting the protein’s remarkable ability to promote its own uptake by cells when presented in the outer layer of a liposome. The company has demonstrated systemic absorption and delivery of both the protein and liposomal contents with oral administration, including the ability to deliver genetic material across the blood-brain barrier.
Terapio was founded in 2005 based on intellectual property under exclusive license from The University of Texas at Arlington generated from research by Dr. Sanjay Awasthi. The Series A financing from Santé Ventures is in addition to $3.2 million Terapio has previously received from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, the National Institutes of Health, and angel investors. Proceeds from this financing will be used to continue preclinical development of the radiation countermeasure and drug delivery applications and to prepare an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application with the FDA to begin human clinical trials.
“We have been following this company’s scientific progress since inception,” said Santé Ventures Managing Director, Kevin Lalande. “While keenly aware of the challenging fundraising environment for early-stage biopharma companies, we nevertheless found in Terapio a compelling combination of platform technology with applications in multiple large target markets and relatively modest capital requirements.”
Terapio has been incubated in the offices of Santé Ventures over the past year and is also a member company of the Austin Technology Incubator. “A major benefit of working at Santé has been the interaction with the partners and other professionals,” said Terapio’s CEO and BioAustin Chairman, Dr. Curt Bilby. “In addition to their domain knowledge and business acumen, Santé’s network has given us access to expertise that we would never have had otherwise and has helped us attract and build a very experienced team; most recently Dr. Vadim Klyushnichenko joined us to lead our drug development effort and Dr. Charles Dowding to spearhead our preclinical programs. With the support of Santé, the capital raised and our team, we have the resources to continue our progress commercializing biologics for both government and commercial applications.”
Terapio is a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of a pipeline of therapies based on the transport protein, RLIP76. Terapio is based in Austin, Texas and funded by Santé Ventures. For more information, www.myzeno.com
About Santé Ventures
Santé Ventures is a life sciences venture capital firm that invests exclusively in early-stage companies developing innovative new medical technologies or healthcare delivery models. The firm was founded in 2006 and has $132 million in capital under management in its debut fund. For more information, visit www.santeventures.com
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