The increasing prevalence of biologics in pharmaceutical pipelines has increased demand for more convenient delivery methods, which helped Terapio land funding from Santé Ventures at a time when other biotechs are struggling.
Kevin Lalande, managing director at Santé Ventures, explained that despite the “challenging fundraising environment” Terapio remains “a compelling combination of platform technology with applications in multiple large target markets and relatively modest capital requirements”.
Terapio’s portfolio is built around RLIP76, a transport protein. Researchers discovered that the protein can promote its own uptake by cells when in the outer layer of a liposome.
Building on this Terapio has performed preclinical tests which it says demonstrate systemic absorption and delivery of both the protein and liposomal contents when delivered orally. Furthermore, these tests show genetic material crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB).
The protein is also being developed as a radiation countermeasure. In this case RLIP76 helps to mitigate the harmful effects of ionizing radiation and chemical toxins by boosting a cells ability to tolerate oxidative stresses caused by reactive glutathione S-conjugates.
Formation and growth
Terapio was spun out of the University of Texas, US in 2005, taking with it some intellectual property on an exclusive licence. Since then it has received $3.2m from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and angel investors.
For the past 12 months Terapio has been incubated in Santé’s offices and this has given it “access to expertise that we would never have had otherwise and has helped us attract and build a very experienced team”, according to Curt Bilby, the company’s CEO.