Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Norman Research Firm Using Grant to Fight Bowel Disease

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Norman Research Firm Using Grant to Fight Bowel Disease

Article excerpt

In the pharmaceuticals business world, it's not uncommon for years to pass in research before the product finally enters the market, said Altheus Therapeutics Inc. Chief Executive Adam Payne.

So a recent award of $300,000 from the Oklahoma Applied Research Support program will be a big help in bringing Altheus closer to its goal of developing a better inflammatory bowel disease treatment, he said.

"We have a remarkably short timeline from our preclinical programs to what we call in industry lingo 'marketing approval' ... when you are able to sell the drug to doctors and they can write a prescription for it," Payne said. "Typically that's a 10- to 12- year timeline for a company. In our case, it's about four years."

Medical research is a natural magnet for venture capital, Payne said. A major corporation can easily commit more than half of its revenues to ongoing research and development, but small companies such as Norman-based Altheus rely heavily on grants and awards as well as outside investment.

"Investors want to get in on something that could be a billion- dollar drug in five years," he said, so they're willing to wait out the process and track the company's benchmarks for development.

Applied research funds from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology, or OCAST, focus on technology with the greatest potential for producing a successful product or service that will benefit the state's economy. This year OCAST awarded more than $2.5 million in the program to help fund the efforts of Altheus and 14 other developing businesses.

Altheus, founded in early 2006, is an academic spinoff company from research and technology primarily developed at OU. The company is in its preclinical program stage and about to enter clinical studies in the fourth quarter of the year.

The therapy that Altheus is developing combines in a new way two drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration. …

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