PITTSBURGH, April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Agentase, LLC, a company focused on the development and implementation of biocatalysts in a diverse range of applications, and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG), a partnership to put the region's life sciences industry on a fast track for growth, today announced that PLSG, through its affiliate, the Pittsburgh Biomedical Development Corporation (PBDC), has invested $100,000 in pre-seed funds to Agentase LLC, which has developed technology that is used in the sensing of chemical warfare agents/toxic industrial chemicals, in pesticide detection/decontamination, and cleanliness sensing.
The PBDC investment will be used to help Agentase further develop its core technology which enables the direct chemical incorporation of enzymes and proteins within the synthetic polymers during polymer synthesis. The company's products have gained national attention and have been recognized in national competitions that highlight new technologies and processes that demonstrate "broad-based impact on society."
The company's first mature product is a nerve agent sensor, which is the lead element in an anticipated line of products for detecting nerve, blood and blister agents, as well as toxic industrial chemicals in point sensor and continuous monitoring applications. Agentase's Chief Executive Officer, Keith LeJeune, Ph.D., said, "The PLSG investment will be used to expedite the development and commercialization of its growing line of products that detect hazardous chemicals." Users of this technology would likely include the military, first responders in EMS, fire, rescue, hazmat, law enforcement and other responder agencies.
"The technology developed by Agentase has already demonstrated tremendous potential for society and as a life sciences business venture, attracting the attention at the highest levels of government," said Doros Platika, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the PLSG. "We are very excited to do our part through the PBDC to help this early stage company to grow and prosper here in the Pittsburgh region."
Agentase was formed in 1998 by Dr. LeJeune and Dr. Alan Russell, both of whom are nationally recognized experts in several chemical and tissue engineering fields. The company now has a staff of 19, with the majority involved in product development.
This investment marks one of the first new investments made by the PBDC since 1999. In November 2003, the PLSG approved a recapitalization of the PBDC to allow for pre-seed investments in individual start-ups and early stage companies. The PBDC became affiliated with the PLSG in June 2003.
Original financial support for the organization, which was incorporated in 1988, came in the form of grants primarily from regional foundations and community development organizations totaling $1.2 million. From 1991 through 1999, the PBDC had invested in 11 regional companies, exhausting available funds for new investment. By 2003, returns on those initial investments created the opportunity for PBDC to resume pre-seed investment in the region's life sciences.
Agentase is an Oakland-based biotech firm developing an array of products based on its platform technology for protein-polymer synthesis. Product development efforts employing enzyme-based plastics fall within three broad categories: chemical detoxification, chemical detection, and healthcare applications. Utilizing financial backing from a number of international corporate partners and federal agencies, Agentase has taken a number of product concepts through prototype development and is well positioned to commercially exploit its growing product portfolio.
About the PLSG
The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse is a public/private partnership, founded by the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, UPMC Health System, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and our regional foundation community. Together with private industry and advanced research and healthcare capabilities of our institutional partners, PLSG invests in and supports the growth of regional life sciences companies. The PLSG is focused on developing a portfolio of companies in the following industry sectors: drug discovery tools and targets, medical devices and diagnostics, tissues engineering and regenerative medicine and therapeutic strategies for neurological and psychiatric disorders.