ProThera Biologics: A Case Study
ProThera Biologics is a biomedical company co-founded in 2001 by researchers at Lifespan/Rhode Island Hospital. The company is developing integrated theranostic and therapeutic biomolecules for serious human diseases such as sepsis and cancer.
Among the potential uses for the company’s innovative therapies are biodefense applications, specifically anthrax intoxication. ProThera’s proprietary technology blocks the harmful anthrax toxin, and prevents the severe – usually fatal – inflammation that follows. Treatment benefit is accomplished not only by inhibiting furin, the key cleaving enzyme of anthrax toxin, by inter-alpha inhibitor proteins, but also by fighting the deadly inflammation, a complication similar to that presented in sepsis. Upon the successful completion of clinical trials, ProThera’s treatments will be added to the natioa’s biodefense stockpile.
ProThera Biologics is a particularly compelling example of the potential that exists in entrepreneurial startups emerging from the labs at biomedical research institutions in Rhode Island. Starting with a research grant in amount of $100,000 from the Slater Technology Fund, the company has been awarded in excess of $6 million in grant funding from various federal and state-based sources. In 2008, the company received additional funding from Slater in the amount of $500,000 in equity investment. ProThera has successfully leveraged this seed funding from Slater to attract more than 10X the investment in additional funding, primarily in the form of SBIR grants from National Institutes of Health. ProThera is using this money to create high-value, high-wage jobs in Rhode Island, as the company continues to develop its biomolecular treatments through a consortium of clinical collaborators in the state.
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