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Cardiovascular Drugs

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

The three start-ups profiled in this group of companies are employing a variety of scientific platforms and business models to develop treatments for cardiovascular disease. Excigen (gene therapy to treat arrhythmias) and Endogeny (cell therapy to repair damaged heart tissue) are using cutting-edge approaches to discover and develop novel therapeutics, while QuatRx is an in-licensing company with a lipid -regulating compound that may enter the clinic next year. What all three have in common is a focus on products and an intent to outlicense their products for late-stage development and commercialization.

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AcelleRX Therapeutics Inc.

AcelleRX Therapeutics aims to help people who suffer a myocardial infarction (MI) or chronic heart failure (HF) via a gene or protein capable of recruiting stem cells to help repair the heart. If the science can be successfully commercialized, this spin-out from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio could have a big impact on a big slice of the market.

The Cooperative, Competitive Future of Pharma R&D

The first annual rEvolution Symposium of top research execs didn't solve the R&D productivity problem, but it went some way towards examining how the industry has gotten itself into it. Most of the big-money technologies of the '90s have not increased the productivity of pharmaceutical R&D, both because they address less significant problems, in particular missing predictive toxicology, and because they've been mismanaged and misused. Moreover, because of the industry's 10-year product cycle time, many technology purveyors have had to overpromise in order to create buying interest that will in turn create returns for investors with much shorter time horizons; some technologies useful for research have been forced before their time to try to serve as the basis for drug creation. Two major areas to focus on: accountability and inter-company cooperation. On the former, the R&D chiefs want to apply to large organizations the kind of accountability intrinsic to small companies. On the latter: no company can solve the basic science problems alone--dealmaking, including consortia, are a necessity. The movement towards decentralization and inter-company cooperation is likely to lead to the disaggregation of the industry's research efforts--and a boon for productive biotechs, granted they can hold on through this time when their models are financially unsustainable.

AureoGen Biosciences Inc.

Formed by Kalamazoo-based Pharmacia alumni, AureoGen Biosciences Inc. is genetically engineering cyclic peptides to create second-generation, resistance-proof anti-infective and anti-fungal therapeutics.

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