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University Spin-Off Lands Radiation Countermeasure Contract

Radiation symbol (EPA)


RxBio Inc., an early stage biotech company spun off from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis, has received a contract from Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the company’s radiation countermeasure drug. The contract has a potential value of $24 million over the next two years.

The contract, with a base value of $15 million and options of up to $9 million, will fund further development of Rx100, a small molecule drug to protect against potentially lethal effects from radiation exposure. Rx100 resulted from a collaboration among three scientists in UTHSC’s physiology and pharmacy departments — Gabor Tigyi, Duane Miller, and Leonard Johnson.

The three scientists engaged Shannon McCool, a Tennessee pharmacy alumnus with experience in commercializing pharmaceuticals, who then started RxBio and now serves as its chairman and CEO. The company later licensed Rx100 from the university’s technology transfer office.

Rx100 has shown benefits to subjects who have taken the drug 24 hours before or up to 72 hours after exposure to radiation at levels several times the lethal standard. The company says Rx100 is also effective against higher levels of radiation that affect the gastrointestinal tract.

Development of the drug to date has so far been funded by a combination of private equity investments and federal grants. The drug has been a sponsored project of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of NIH, which has to date provided nearly $5 million in early stage funding.

Read more: Contracts Awarded for GI Tract Radiation Syndrome Drugs

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