A Rare Startup Taking on Niche Disorders
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