A biopharmaceutical startup developing a new treatment for asthma that targets the nitric oxide signaling system has raised $50,000 of a planned $500,000 fundraise, according to recently filed U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission documents.
SAJE Pharma LLC’s lead compound appears to have been discovered at Johns Hopkins University and is in preclinical stages. Aside from respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD, the company is also devoting research efforts to using its technology in the treatment of inflammation and cardiovascular diseases like hypertension, according to its website.
Nitric oxide is a highly reactive signaling molecule that regulates numerous physiological and cellular processes, and has been implicated in a variety of diseases. SAJE says that its technology pharmacologically regulates levels of nitrosylated proteins, so it is more targeted than agents that simply increase the levels of nitric oxide in tissues. It will develop its lead molecule through phase 2 clinical trials, the company says on its website. Chief scientific officer Dr. Helen Pentikis didn’t respond to a request for more information.
Like the current market, dominated by GSK’s Advair, AstraZeneca’s Symbicort and Merck’s Singulair, the pipeline for asthma and COPD drugs is already quite strong with candidates from numerous Big Pharmas. Recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration approvals have included Merck’s combination drug Dulera, Novartis/Genentech’s Xolair and Novartis/Schering-Plough’s Foradil, plus a new nondrug treatment called bronchial thermoplasty. GSK/Theravance’s Relovair is expected to be submitted for approved this year.
Market research from BCC Research and GlobalData estimates that the $26 billion asthma/COPD drug market will grow slowly through 2014, with product differentiation and targeting to specific patient pools becoming increasingly important.
Formed in 2009 by life science entrepreneur/consultant Matthews Bradley and Pentikis, SAJE operates out of Baltimore, Maryland. The company was awarded $75,000 from the Maryland Technology Development Corp.’s Maryland Technology Transfer and Commercialization Fund last year.
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