CLEVELAND, September 30, 2015 – OptiKira, a start-up biotechnology company, has been awarded two Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants, one from the National Eye Institute (NEI) and one from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The funding will support OptiKira’s development of small molecule therapeutics that prevent cell death in pathologies caused by misfolded or unfolded proteins. The company’s technology platform has application for diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
“Funding by both the NEI and NIDDK speaks to the broad platform and scope of OptiKira’s technologies,” said Dr. Feroz Papa, MD, PhD, a company founder and Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
OptiKira was launched in 2015 by BioMotiv, the mission-driven accelerator associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery and Development. OptiKira’s technologies are exclusively licensed from UCSF and the University of Washington. “OptiKira is making good progress in advancing their technologies for the treatment of a variety of diseases,” said Baiju R. Shah, Chief Executive Officer of BioMotiv. “These NIH grant awards are testaments to the technology platform and to the quality and hard work of OptiKira’s team and scientists.”
“We are excited to move forward with this funding and continue to refine our technology,” commented Dr. Scott Oakes, MD, a company founder and Associate Professor of Pathology at UCSF. “The support allows us to get one step closer to potentially developing a drug with farreaching patient benefit.”
Dr. Oakes and Dr. Papa, both physician-scientists, were Harrington Scholar-Innovators supported by the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland.
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OptiKira is a start-up company developing novel therapeutics to prevent cell death. Founded in 2015, the company’s technology is based on discoveries developed and exclusively licensed from the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Washington. Extensive research by the founders has helped define the biological pathway leading to progressive cell death which characterizes diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Learn more at www.optikira.com.
BioMotiv is the mission-driven accelerator associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a $250 million national initiative for advancing medicine centered at University Hospitals in Cleveland. The focus is to accelerate breakthrough discoveries from research institutions into therapeutics for patients through an innovative model that efficiently aligns capital and collaborations. The company leverages an experienced team and advisory board to select, fund, and actively manage and advance a portfolio of drug development programs. Learn more at www.biomotiv.com.
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