The Exscien Corporation of Louisville, KY, in conjunction with LSU Health New Orleans Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, has been awarded an SBIR Fast-Track grant in the amount of $3.7 million over three years by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The funding will be used to study the company's first in a new class of drugs that repairs DNA damage to reduce cardiac tissue injury and improve outcomes in cardiovascular diseases.
The grant will directly fund $1,441,643 to LSU Health New Orleans to study the potential efficacy of Exscien1-III, a patented three-part fusion protein designed to harness the body's own mechanisms to control and repair disease pathways. The drug has demonstrated significant cardioprotective actions in rodent models of acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, and the newly funded research will investigate its effectiveness in a model of heart failure. A goal of this research is to move this promising new drug toward human clinical trials.
Exscien CEO Dr. Ker Ferguson and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Glenn Wilson, and LSU Health New Orleans Cardiovascular Center of Excellence Director David J. Lefer, PhD, are the grant's principal investigators. They will work alongside LSU Health New Orleans Cardiovascular Center Translational Core Laboratory Director Traci Goodchild, PhD, to develop a pathway for Exscien1-III to restore fundamental cellular metabolic function and disrupt a root pathway for cardiac disease progression and heart failure.
While at an early stage of overall development, Exscien's proprietary protein leads the way to finding a means to mitigate and repair the underlying tissue damage suffered from these devastating diseases.
"Exscien is able to deliver microscopic repair enzymes directly to the root of the damage and thus goes beyond the current standard of care of simply treating downstream symptoms," says Dr. Ker Ferguson, Exscien CEO. "The therapy offers substantial commercial potential and has attracted large 'pharma' interest to date."
"This approach could potentially effect more than 20 million people worldwide with progressive heart failure," notes Dr. David Lefer, Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Cardiovascular Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.