Three local biotechnology companies are collaborating on a new humanized drug discovery campaign to discover inhibitor of STING, a protein known as stimulator of interferon genes. Dr. Shanta Bantia, Nitor Therapeutics’ President and CEO, approached DBM about this drug target for niche autoimmune diseases. She, together with DBM’s Dr. John Streiff and Erik Schwiebert, designed a Critical Path of discovery and validation assays using human cells to garner Phase 1 SBIR funding from the NIH NIAID. In addition to DBM and Nitor, Dr. Pooran Chand, President of Therachem Medilabs, has opened a new site in Birmingham, and is assisting this project with medicinal chemistry and synthetic chemistry expertise.
“STING and its associated signaling pathway is an exciting drug target in BioPharmaceutical circles at present,” declared Dr. Shanta Bantia. “There have already been multiple deals between smaller biotechnology firms and larger BioPharmaceutical companies for STING agonists and antagonists. We seek to join this sector and we believe that our approach is novel. We are already discovering novel hit-to-lead chemical classes that are STING inhibitors and we are validating them in normal and diseased human leukocyte cell platforms at present.”
“This 3-way collaboration is exciting for DBM and it speaks to a growing critical mass in biotechnology companies in Birmingham,” explained DBM’s Dr. Schwiebert. “Upon successful completion of the Phase 1 SBIR goal, aims and milestones, we are scripting the Phase 2 SBIR proposal at present and we will introduce this program and its early output at BIO 2020 in San Diego.”
Finally and most importantly, our collaboration is humbled and grateful for the grant support from the NIH NIAID.