AMES, Iowa (May 15, 2019) – The Iowa State University Startup Factory today announced that one of their cohort-four teams, PK Biosciences Corporation (PK Bio), has been awarded a $224,912 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This award will fund studies to explore and validate novel mechanism-based neuroprotective strategies for Parkinson’s disease. The grant will support research headed by PK Bio President and CEO Anumantha Kanthasamy, Ph.D., and Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Operating Officer Vellareddy Anantharam, Ph.D.

Existing therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, focus mainly on treating symptoms but fail to halt disease progression. The NIH award will allow PK Bio to continue its research and preclinical development of a novel treatment to slow down Parkinson’s disease progression.

“Existing approaches to Parkinson’s disease treatment focus on alleviating motor symptoms caused by the progressive loss of certain nerve cells, called dopaminergic neurons, in the brain,” said Dr. Anumantha Kanthasamy. “PK Bio is examining the mechanism which contributes to neurodegenerative processes in Parkinson’s, and is developing therapeutics to treat the disorder, rather than just treating symptoms. The NIH award will allow us to do additional preclinical studies and further testing to validate our treatment before it can go to human clinical trials.”

Dr. Vellareddy Anantharam added, “We are grateful for the NIH support. The year-long project will allow us to capitalize on recent discoveries about cell death pathways and oxidative stress signaling, to further demonstrate our proof-of-principle, and accomplish important project goals. This study has the potential to advance treatments that could one day help patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.”

PK Bio is a member of the Iowa State University Startup Factory’s fourth cohort. The Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program at the Iowa State University Research Park that provides an avenue for students, faculty, staff, and community members to create technology-based, platform businesses. Entrepreneurs in the program receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first is a formal curriculum centered on business validation, while the second block is more customized to their individual business needs. Dr. Jie Luo, participated in this program as a graduate student and is currently employed as a part-time Senior Scientist at PK Bio.

“As academic scientists, commercializing a technology for the marketplace isn’t part of our expertise,” said Dr. Kanthasamy. “The ISU Startup Factory provided us the necessary training and resources needed to take our business to the next level.”

This research is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under award number R43NS110129. The content of this press release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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 About the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
The NINDS (
http://www.ninds.nih.gov) is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

About PK Biosciences Corporation (PK Bio)
PK Bio, founded by Drs. Anumantha Kanthasamy and Vellareddy Anantharam aims to translate their new basic research findings on Parkinson’s disease into novel therapeutic strategies that could slow down or cure Parkinson’s disease by altering immune and trophic support within the brain. For more information, call 515-598-7654 or visit pkbio.com.

About ISU Startup Factory
The Iowa State University (ISU) Startup Factory is a 52-week intensive program housed at the ISU Research Park (ISURP). Entrepreneurs in the Startup Factory receive formal training, resources, and access to a network of business mentors, advisors, counselors, and investors in two 26-week blocks: the first a formal curriculum centered on business validation, and the second, customized to their individual business needs. For more information on the ISU Startup Factory program, call 515-294-7444 or visit isustartupfactory.org.

About ISU Research Park
Establish in 1987, The Iowa State University Research Park (ISURP) is a real estate development community closely affiliated with Iowa State University. ISURP assists both established and startup companies in connecting with Iowa State’s vast infrastructure to grow their enterprises; whether through students, research entities, equipment or a multitude of other resources. ISURP is currently home to 87 companies and research centers and 11 affiliates, employing 2,155 and 135 people, respectively, and occupies approximately 800,000 square feet of commercial real estate on 400 acres. ISURP recently expanded and now boasts 400 acres of developable space, which will include tenant amenities, a park and multi-use trails. For more information on ISURP, call 515.296.4204 or visit isupark.org.

Contact:
Julie Lelonek, Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations Communications
515-294-1562, jlelonek@iastate.edu

Iowa State University
Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations
1805 Collaboration Place
Ames, IA  50010

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