Potential $1.5 Million The Michael J. Fox Foundation Grant Boosts Eboo Pharma

Published: Jun 20, 2013

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. June 20, 2013 – A 2-year-old Durham biotechnology company has parlayed North Carolina Biotechnology Center support into a grant of up to $1.5 million from the high-profile Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Eboo Pharmaceuticals Inc. (EPI) was established in 2012 with the help of a $30,000 Company Inception Loan from NCBiotech. It’s developing novel and promising therapeutics, called cellular delta receptor agents, for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, depression and for protecting heart and other cells from dying as blood flow is restored after a heart attack.

The loan helped EPI’s founding team of pharmaceutical veterans develop a corporate structure, support intellectual property activities and pursue business-development opportunities, including the submission of grant applications and pre-clinical publications on its lead compounds.

The company is aiming two of those compounds, dubbed DPI-289 and DPI-290, at reducing Parkinson’s disease symptoms directly as well as controlling the debilitating motor fluctuations associated with existing Parkinson’s treatments. The company says the compounds have a unique dual action, called delta receptor agonism and mu receptor antagonism (DAMA). The MJFF was intrigued, because no other Parkinson’s disease therapy attacks the disease with this dual mechanism of action.

“One of our foundation’s priorities is the development of promising symptomatic treatments to improve the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s today,” said Maurizio Facheris, M.D., M.Sc., associate director of research programs at MJFF, in a news release issued by EPI. “DAMA compounds represent a new approach in treating the motor symptoms of the disease.”

In Durham, Jonathon Holt, Ph.D., EPI’s chief scientific officer, said the MJFF grant “provides important validation for the further development of this new and unique dual-target mechanism of action as a potentially high-impact approach to improve the lives of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.”

Robert McNutt, president of EPI, said NCBiotech support has been key to the company’s solid start, its exposure to the foundation grant, and even its current search for a CEO. The timeline includes:

• December 2011: NCBiotech staff met with EPI founders at a Foundation Funding Biotech Forum organized by NCBiotech

• May 2012: NCBiotech awarded EPI the $30,000 Company Inception Loan

• July 2012: NCBiotech suggested EPI target the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research for grant funding

• December 2012: EPI presented at NCBiotech’s Emerging Company Preview

• 2012-2013: NCBiotech made introductions to CEO candidates, investors

• EPI also made frequent use of NCBiotech’s BATON network of support companies

• April 2013: EPI met with Michael J. Fox Foundation, others at the NCBiotech-organized Southeast Venture Philanthropy Summit

• June 2013: Michael J. Fox Foundation announced the grant to EPI

The company name comes from the major investor in the startup, Ebrahim Versi, M.D., Ph.D., a former Harvard professor currently focused on drug development and whose nickname is Eboo. Holt’s young children were taken with the nickname and had the deciding vote in naming the corporation. Versi acquired the intellectual property of numerous pre-clinical drug candidates, which he has subsequently licensed to EPI for pharmaceutical development.

NCBiotech is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business, education and strategic policy statewide.

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