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UA Pharmaceutical Startup Awarded Grant

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Posted October 16, 2015

Botanisol, a University of Arizona startup company, has been awarded a grant totaling nearly $225,000 to develop a new anti-inflammatory drug, TAI-LCx.

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The company was based on technology developed in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UA College of Pharmacy and the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. The grant, from the National Institutes of Health and National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was given under the Federal STTR, or Small Business Technology Transfer, program.

The novel drug represents a possible replacement for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Current NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen, are used to treat a wide variety of inflammatory conditions, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but research has linked the drugs to bleeding ulcers, kidney problems, stroke and heart attacks, with patients older than 65 experiencing elevated risk.

TAI-LCx originally was developed by Barbara Timmermann, former Regents’ Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the UA and current Distinguished Professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas, and Clark Lantz, UA professor of cellular and molecular medicine, and their colleagues. The compound is a highly specific constituent derived from the essential oils of turmeric; it is not curcumin or a derivative thereof.

Early published research has shown the drug to be a promising treatment for inflammation and inflammatory pain that utilizes a pathway different from NSAIDs to achieve safer treatment results. Current NSAIDs overuse has resulted in warnings from the FDA.

The competitive grant will fully fund three stages of TAI-LCx development, and it represents a milestone for the company, according to its CEO and co-founder, P. Scott Waterhouse.

“TAI-LCx is a promising discovery because the research has shown that it reduces inflammation without affecting the COX-2 (cyclooxygenase) enzyme,” Waterhouse says. COX-2 mediation is directly linked to the known cardiovascular adverse effects of NSAIDs.

The novel TAI-LCx compound was discovered at the UA as the result of an NIH-supported research program. Through Tech Launch Arizona, the unit of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from University research, the UA sought protection for and patented the technology, and licensed it exclusively to Botanisol.

Tod McCauley, the Tech Launch Arizona licensing manager working with Botanisol’s TAI-LCx technology, said, “We are excited to see Botanisol’s tremendous developmental efforts being recognized by the NIH’s Small Business Technology Transfer program with funding that is critical to the commercial advancement of TAI-LCx.”

Source: University of Arizona

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