A Rare Startup Tak­ing on Niche Disor­ders

The Economic Times - - Power Of Ideas -

NPC, there are only 10 -15 pro­fes­sors glob­ally who are ex­perts,” said Pa­pa­iah, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aten Porus. “We asked (Fiorenza) to test our drug. We got very en­cour­ag­ing re­sults. Not only could we show that the life­span of mice could be dou­bled with our drug, but also that brain dam­age could be stopped.” The pair say their for­mu­la­tion is bet­ter than ex­ist­ing options as it al­lows for fewer doses to be ad­min­is­tered and in eas­ier ways. Im­por­tantly, it can po­ten­tially re­sult in a 30-50% re­duc­tion in cost.

“Based on the strat­egy design of this drug and the en­cour­ag­ing re­sults we have ob­tained up to now, I be­lieve that it has the po­ten­tial to rep­re­sent a ma­jor break­through for the treat­ment of NPC dis­ease and per­haps other lyso­so­mal disor­ders,” said Fiorenza.

With the ini­tial suc­cess, the duo wanted to test if the same thought process could be used to ex­pand use SRINI­VASAN NAMALA, Part­ner, Aten Porus of the drug for other choles­terol-re­lated dis­eases or disor­ders. “If you look at the var­i­ous dis­eases we want to tackle and dis­til them down, the un­der­ly­ing fac­tor for each of these dis­eases is ex­cess ac­cu­mu­la­tion of choles­terol and lipids. What our drug could do is, the mo­ment choles­terol is ac­cu­mu­lated it is re­moved from the body,” said Kulka­rni. The plan is for Aten to part­ner with pharma com­pa­nies that have mar­ket­ing, pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion mus­cle. Aten Porus this week raised $1.4 mil­lion (about ₹ 9.3 crore) for its sub­sidiary Orax­ion Ther­a­peu­tics from an undis­closed US-based phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal trad­ing com­pany.

Aten pre­vi­ously raised $1 mil­lion from Srini­vasan Namala, CEO of Hy­der­abad-based Porus Labs, who is now also a part­ner in the com­pany. It also se­cured the ₹ 50-lakh Biotech­nol­ogy Ig­ni­tion Grant in­sti­tuted by the gov­ern­ment-funded Biotech­nol­ogy In­dus­try Re­search As­sis­tance Coun­cil.

“Rare dis­eases have a fast-track ap­proval with or­phan des­ig­na­tion and lot of in­cen­tives from reg­u­la­tory bod­ies such as the USA-FDA and Euro­pean-EMA,” said Namala. “The sheer num­ber of (rare) dis­eases cou­pled with very few ma­jor pharma/biotech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies fo­cus­ing on them of fers a g reat op­por­tu­nity for com­pa­nies like (Aten).”

Rare dis­eases have a fast-track ap­proval with or­phan des­ig­na­tion and lot of in­cen­tives from reg­u­la­tory bod­ies such as the USA-FDA and Euro­pean-EMA

Co­founders Aditya Kulka­rni & Arun B Pa­pa­iah

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