INDIANAPOLIS — Anagin, a company launched by two Indiana University scientists to develop a first-of-its-kind treatment to battle post-traumatic stress disorder, emerged from six finalists Tuesday to win the third annual BioCrossroads New Venture Competition.
The contest, held in conjunction with the 2014 Indiana Life Sciences Summit at the JW Marriott hotel in Indianapolis, awards a $25,000 cash prize to the first-place winner. The winner also receives business planning and early strategic support from the Indiana Seed Fund II, as well as the opportunity for more exposure by making a presentation to the fund’s investment committee.
Co-founded by IU School of Medicine professor Anantha Shekhar and Yvonne Lai, a senior scientist with IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Bloomington, Anagin is developing drugs that directly inhibit the brain mechanisms that cause PTSD, but without the debilitating side effects that come with current treatments.
The company, which recently received a $692,706 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health, is a product of the Spin Up program created by the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.
“Our team is extremely pleased to win such an honor, especially given the rigorous evaluation process and the promise held by the other finalist companies as well,” said Shekhar, a professor of psychiatry, pharmacology and neurobiology at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis and director of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute “This award will play a key role in helping to advance our technology development and offers additional avenues to reinforce our strategies as we prepare to enter the market.”
Joe Trebley, who heads the IURTC’s Spin Up program, said Anagin’s win validates both its drug development team and the potential that the company’s approach toward PTSD treatment holds.
“To begin with, you have a world-class development team in Dr. Shekhar and Dr. Lai, who are pre-eminent scientists in their field. But also, you have a first-of-its-kind drug that will meet a critical, unmet need for a disease that affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Trebley said.
“For any sufferer of PTSD — veterans, domestic abuse victims, child abuse victims — the work that Anagin is doing will be a game changer.”
The competition, presented by the Krieg DeVault law firm, is open to fledgling companies that are based in or have significant ties to Indiana. They must specialize in biotechnology, pharmaceutical products, medical devices, diagnostic equipment, agricultural-biotech applications or health-focused information technology.
In a highly competitive process, companies are vetted based upon:
Their management teams.
Their control or access to owned, licensed, or protectable intellectual property and technology.
Ability to show a valid market need for their products.
Anagin is seeking patent protection for its drug composition and treatment methods, and soon will ramp up research and development efforts, including collaborations with Indiana University and Northeastern University-Boston.
The company also will receive $50,000 in matching funds from Elevate Ventures, a nonprofit organization that provides state dollars to promising, early-stage entrepreneurs who have received funding through small business grants.
Sponsors of the BioCrossroads New Venture Competition were 5AM Ventures, VisionTech Partners, LLC. and Bloomberg Government.
IURTC is a not-for-profit agency that helps IU faculty and researchers realize the commercial potential of their discoveries. Its Spin Up program aids companies with promising technologies in their early stages of development. Since 1997, IURTC’s university clients have accounted for more than 1,800 inventions, nearly 500 patents and 38 start-up companies.