SUMMERVILLE, S.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--SCRA Technology Ventures' SC Launch Portfolio Company, FirstString Research, has recently signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health, through NCATS’ Bridging Interventional Development Gaps program.
“We are excited to work with the project team at NCATS to further optimize our ophthalmic ACT1 formulation. The research completed under this CRADA will pave the way for human clinical evaluation and has the potential to address the medical needs of an expanding diabetic population.”
This agreement is based on the development of a connexin-based peptide therapeutic, ACT1, as a topical ophthalmic therapy for the treatment of diabetic keratopathy and persistent corneal defects. The goal is to develop an optimized ACT1 topical ophthalmic drug formulation, and conduct pre-clinical IND enabling studies in preparation for clinical trials.
Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness and visual impairments, where diabetic keratopathy, characterized by corneal thinning and disorganization, presents in an estimated 47-64% of diabetic patients. Unlike in normoglycemic individuals, diabetic corneal defects are associated with abnormal corneal reepithelialization and individuals with diabetes present with persistent corneal wounds that are unresponsive to conventional treatment regimens. ACT1 is a peptide-based therapeutic based on the C-terminal sequence of connexin43 (Cx43) and is designed to competitively inhibit the binding of endogenous Cx43. Cx43 plays critical roles in multiple aspects of wound healing, including spread of injury signals, extravasations of immune cells, granulation tissue formation, and fibrosis. A topical gel formulation of ACT1 (Granexin) has completed several Phase II clinical trial studies for chronic wound healing and scar reduction.
Topically applied ACT1 enhances corneal re-epithelialization and wound closure following corneal injury in diabetic models.
“ACT1 peptide effectively targets the underlying molecular and cellular processes involved in corneal re-epithelialization by increasing coordination of cellular communication, and tempering inflammatory responses. The result is accelerated corneal reepithelialization and reduced scarring.” said Dr. Christina Grek, Director of Translational Research at FirstString Research.
“We are excited to work with the project team at NCATS to further optimize our ophthalmic ACT1 formulation. The research completed under this CRADA will pave the way for human clinical evaluation and has the potential to address the medical needs of an expanding diabetic population.” said Dr. Gautam S. Ghatnekar, President and CEO of FirstString Research. “Furthermore, the resulting ACT1 formulation will be useful in the treatment of corneal injuries resulting from military engagement or corneal epithelial damage obtained during cataract or corneal refractive surgery.”
"We are delighted to support FirstString as they continue their progress in the regenerative medicine market," said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney. "It is promising emerging companies like FirstString that are shaping our state’s technology-base and job creation."
About SCRA and SCRA Technology Ventures
SCRA Technology Ventures enables research commercialization and promotes the development of high tech industries, enhancing South Carolina’s technology-based economy. Through its flagship SC Launch program, this SCRA business sector makes investments in and offers supports services to South Carolina’s early stage, start-up technology companies.
Multiple economic impact studies show SCRA's cumulative output on South Carolina's economy to be over $18.1 billion, and that the company has helped create approximately 15,000 technology-related jobs in the state, with annual wages averaging between $55,000 and $77,000.
SCRA Technology Ventures
Micki Howard MacNaughton, 843-760-3329; 843-697-9226 mobile