Technical.ly Baltimore: UMB, in partnership with alumni, wants to commercialize rare disease treatments
Wednesday, August 3, 2022
GEn1E Lifesciences is emphasizing the “tech” in “biotech” with its goal of bringing new drugs — for treatment of pulmonary, oncological and degenerative muscle conditions — to market in three years or fewer.
Dr. Ritu Lal still keeps ties to the Baltimore-based University of Maryland (UMD) School of Pharmacy, the place where she earned a Ph.D. nearly 25 years ago, through a novel partnership with that school’s parent institution.
The CEO of the Palo Alto, California-based GEn1E Lifesciences teamed up with the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) to develop treatments for therapies that address lung diseases, cancers and muscle degeneration. Its relationship has grown ever since GEn1E Lifesciences, a 2019 alum of Silicon Valley’s acclaimed Y Combinator accelerator, acquired the license to the UMB-developed p38a kinase inhibitor program, which it used to develop treatments for inflammatory and age-related diseases. Those treatments are now in the clinical stage.
Now, the relationship with UMB continues to grow as Lal plans to commercialize a sibling therapeutic intervention with so-called extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) immunomodulators.
The new license and research stand on the shoulders of work by Dr. Paul Shapiro of the aforementioned pharmacy school and Dr. Jeffrey D. Hasday of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The duo discovered a way to target only the part of an enzyme that was experiencing inflammation instead of the whole enzyme. When the entire enzyme is targeted it also impacts parts that can help treat the disease.
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