Life sciences startup based on Purdue IP changes name to Jewell Laboratories

May 5, 2015  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A life sciences startup based on a Purdue University innovation that could develop a first-in-class therapeutic for Niemann-Pick Type C disease has changed its name from Aten Biotherapeutics to Jewell Laboratories LLC.

Nancy Hathaway, managing director, said the name change provides the company with an opportunity to brand itself more strongly.

"Although the initial focus of Jewell Laboratories will remain on therapeutics, we didn't want the name to discourage prospective partners and clients in other sectors to reach out to us," she said. "Our expertise extends across several sectors, which could lead to additional products and services that reach beyond improving and developing therapeutics."

David Thompson, president, said Niemann-Pick Type C has no cure.

"Niemann-Pick Type C traps and accumulates cholesterol in the cells of affected individuals, which leads to cell death, loss of neurologic, liver and lung function and, in most cases, death at an early age," he said. "Jewell Laboratories is developing a polymeric prodrug that degrades into low-toxicity components found in multiple FDA-approved products with a well-known tolerance in humans. The active form of the drug promotes the mobilization of improperly stored cholesterol in cells with an accompanying extension of cell survival."

The technology has been licensed to Jewell Laboratories through the Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization.

Thompson, a professor in Purdue's Department of Chemistry, said the company also is developing technology that could improve the sensitivity and tumor-detection capabilities of MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

"In a traditional MRI session, an imaging agent has a half-life of only about five minutes. This means the ability to capture a useful image usually is lost within 15 or 20 minutes. That isn't sufficient to image tumors or even cardiovascular problems. Application of conventional MR contrast agents for tumor or cardiovascular imaging would require the administration of more contrast agent," he said. "Unfortunately, some of the clinically approved agents in current use can lead to kidney toxicity, particularly in the elderly or other individuals with impaired kidney function. In those cases, higher concentrations can't be administered to achieve useful images for diagnostic and therapeutic guidance purposes."

Thompson and other researchers are developing degradable imaging agents that allow for a safer and higher sensitivity imaging session.

"Lower concentrations of contrast agents are required to capture MR images when the agents are more sensitive and release the contrast agent in a slower, more controlled fashion to reduce the potential for kidney toxicity," he said. "Because there is a lower concentration, combined with a longer circulation and degradation into non-toxic byproducts, the risk of long MR imaging procedures could be decreased."

About Jewell Laboratories LLC

Jewell Laboratories LLC is a Purdue startup company that is focused on the development of novel cyclodextrin polymer materials for applications in Niemann-Pick Type C disease, magnetic resonance imaging, and delivery of biotherapeutic agents.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org

Sources: Nancy L. Hathaway, 765-414-1907, jewelllabs@comcast.net

David H. Thompson, 765-494-0386, davethom@purdue.edu 

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