Herndon, VA (PRWEB) January 18, 2012
The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced today a $50,000 investment in Charlottesville, Va.-based SphynKx Therapeutics LLC. SphynKx focuses on the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics that target the sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) pathway in novel ways, potentially leading to breakthrough treatments for diseases such as fibrosis and cancer.
SphynKx’s S1P is a bioactive lipid that is an important regulator of many physiologic processes. Since abnormal S1P indicates the presence of disease, targeting the S1P pathway can serve as a platform for the development of advanced therapies. Although the S1P pathway is already a validated drug (Gilenya™ for MS) target, emerging data points to broad, untapped potential for S1P therapies in other areas of considerable medical need. The S1P3 receptor and sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) appear to be particularly important and SphynKx has proprietary drug candidates that specifically address these targets.
CIT President and CEO Pete Jobse said, “SphynKx’s innovative expertise in chemical biology advances our community towards the essential treatment needed for lung injuries, fibrosis, and cancer. CIT’s investment will allow them to help spur the life sciences industry of the future.”
Within the SphynKx library, the company has a collection of sphingosine kinase inhibitors that offer a new and unique approach for targeting the S1P pathway. In cancer, SphK1 is functionally validated as a drug target, and importantly, SphynKx’s SphK1 inhibitors are the most potent compounds reported to date. Recently, the biotechnology company has discovered a potent SphK2 inhibitor that may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
SphynKx Therapeutics’ President, CEO, and Co-Founder Andrew Bolt said, “SphynKx has proprietary small molecule compounds that modulate the pathways in novel ways. With this investment, our primary goal is to conduct proof-of-concept testing for the treatment of cancer, fibrosis, acute lung injury, and stem cell mobilization.”
Tom Weithman, CIT Vice President and GAP Funds Managing Director, said, “Andrew Bolt and his fellow co-founders discovered this life-saving technology and are recognized leaders in the field of S1P chemical biology. With support from the GAP Funds, SphynKx will conduct further research in producing treatments of such debilitating diseases, thus generating significant economic return within the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Since its 2005 launch, CIT GAP Funds has placed over 50 investments across the Commonwealth, deploying more than $5M of public funds and attracting $16 dollars of private funding for every $1 of public money invested. (For a list of portfolio companies, please visit the GAP Funds [website.)
To learn more about SphynKx Therapeutics LLC, visit their website.
About the Center for Innovative Technology, http://www.cit.org
CIT is a nonprofit corporation that accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies. CIT creates new technology companies through capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology startup companies and advanced technology consumers.
About the CIT GAP Funds, http://www.citgapfunds.org
CIT GAP Funds makes seed-stage equity investments in Virginia-based technology, clean tech and life science companies with a high potential for achieving rapid growth and generating significant economic return for entrepreneurs, co-investors and the Commonwealth of Virginia. CIT GAP Funds investments are overseen by the CIT GAP Funds Investment Advisory Board (IAB). This independent, third-party panel consists of leading regional entrepreneurs, angel and strategic investors, and venture capital firms such as: New Enterprise Associates, Grotech Ventures, Valhalla Partners, Harbert Venture Partners HIG Ventures, Edison Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Intersouth Partners, SJF Ventures, Carilion Health Systems, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, and Alpha Natural Resources.