Since 2008, when Scott Struthers founded San Diego’s Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, the startup has advanced its development of small-molecule drugs for treating endocrine-related disorders and cancers chiefly through a series of Small Business Innovative Research awards and foundation grants. The company says its passion for drug hunting “is tempered by a post-recession startup culture.”
This week, the employee-owned biopharma startup says it has landed another SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health, this time for $1.5 million to develop an oral drug to treat polycystic ovary syndrome and other women’s health disorders. The grant came through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Crinetics is focused in particular on a family of peptide receptor molecules called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). In an e-mail, vice president Steve Betz says, “Our expertise is the intersection of GPCR pharmacology and endocrine diseases, so all of our programs (or any nascent ideas for new programs) are GPCR-related.”
The company describes polycystic ovary syndrome as the most common endocrine disorder among women of reproductive age. Characterized by a hormone imbalance, women may experience irregular menstruation, trouble getting pregnant, cysts in the ovaries, infertility, and other health changes.
While Crinetics also has a collaborative agreement with the Ferring Research Institute, Betz says, “This is one of our own programs that we are developing in-house. We had received a Phase-I SBIR for it and made good progress, which became the foundation for our Phase-II application.”
In the company’s statement, CEO Struthers says the latest award “is also another important step forward in our strategy to build a pipeline of important new drug candidates with support from the NIH and other patient-focused groups.”