San Diego’s Leading Ventures Takes on Commercialization of Bioengineering Breakthroughs

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the subsequent funding of InflammaGen, and has invested about $2 million in the startup so far. In addition to that investment and its stake in AnoZyme, Leading Ventures funded five other biomedical technologies out of UCSD that it will move toward the trials process, says Hank Loy, a business development executive who now manages both InflammaGen and AnoZyme as the CEO of Leading Ventures’ portfolio companies.

Loy has been talking with six “major” pharmaceutical companies about forming a potential strategic partnership with InflammaGen, Rodenrys says.

Schmid-Schöenbein, who received his PhD in bioengineering from UCSD in 1976, spent most of the ensuing 35 years studying biomechanics and microcirculation in living tissues. He has specialized in studying inflammation at the cellular and molecular level. (Inflammation is the body’s complex biological response to stress or harmful stimuli, and occurs in response to traumatic injury, burns, chemical exposure, extreme cold, and infections.)

Inflammation is a necessary process for destroying dead cells and damaged tissue; without it wounds and infections would never heal. But inflammation also can go too far—degrading capillaries and attacking vital organs.

Geert Schmid-Schönbein (courtesy UCSD)

Schmid-Schönbein has theorized that powerful digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas and secreted in the small intestine play a key role in what he calls “the inflammatory cascade.” In experiments at UCSD, Schmid-Shönbein’s team has induced hemorrhagic shock in laboratory rats, causing the blood pressure to fall sharply in the intestine. Within minutes, digestive enzymes begin to penetrate the intestinal wall. After escaping the confines of the intestine, these enzymes attack the interior walls of capillaries supplying blood to other organs. He describes this “auto-digestion” process as a previously unknown mechanism in the host inflammatory responses—and one that is particularly dangerous if unchecked.

“We’re trying to block the … Next Page »

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