A complication from surgery can cost tens of thousands of dollars and require more surgery to correct — but a young Maryland startup is cooking up a more affordable and less invasive solution.
Bethesda'sNostopharma LLC is developing a treatment for pathologic bone growth, the formation of new bone following surgeries, burns, injuries and other traumas. The complication affects 100,000 patients every year.
The partners, two scientists who took the $15,000 second-place prize and $10,000 best women’s venture award at the George Washington University New Venture Competition in April, developed their repurposed NP-101 drug as a single-dose injection to cut costs and lower the incidence of revision surgery. They contend the treatment, to be priced at around $10,000 and administered at the time of the initial surgery for the trauma, will prevent the need for a subsequent surgery, which could cost around $50,000.
Their target audience comprises trauma surgeons, the decision-makers of the measures to improve the patient’s chances of complete recovery, said co-founder and CEO Katya Vert. Military surgeons also fall under their umbrella, because pathologic bone growth also commonly affects soldiers who suffer from blast injuries. Another future application could be for children suffering from certain genetic diseases.
The drug has a long way to go before reaching patients. The company has some federal and state grants, but is looking for more substantial funding. It plans to raise around $3 million to complete preclinical work, though a round has not officially opened yet. Now the co-founders are doing formulation development and optimization for research in animals.
But they already have some support. In addition to the funding from the pitch competition at GWU, where co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Jelena Jeremic is a student in the School of Business, the team received several prizes. including educational course credits with Amazon’s AWS Educate, legal services from law firm Blank Rome LLP, graphic design services with 99designs, a three-month trial with D.C.-based Hatch Apps and a one-month membership with co-working space Cove.
Jeremic has been working in bone research for years, with a background at the National Institutes of Health. She’s currently a tech transfer officer, working as a contractor at Walter Reed. Vert brings experience in biopharmaceutical product development with degrees in biochemistry, business and engineering management. She’s currently global head of project and orders management at BioReliance in Rockville, with previous positions with Synthetic Biologics, Emergent BioSolutions and MedImmune.
Both co-founders remain in their full-time jobs, carving out time on the side to focus on the startup. But, Vert said, “our dream is to develop this into a fully funded enterprise so we can devote all of our time to developing this treatment.”