A biotech startup formed by a group of scientists at the University of Pittsburgh has closed a Series A funding round. Globin Solutions raised more than $5 million for an antidote to treat carbon monoxide poisoning.
The funding will be used to support preclinical development of Globin Solutions‘ lead compound, optimizing the manufacturing and ensuring that the treatment is safe in animals.
Globin Solutions licensed the technology that forms the basis of the antidote from the University of Pittsburgh. The founders of the business who developed the antidote each serves on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Mark Gladwin is chair of medicine; Dr. Jason Rose is an assistant professor of medicine and bioengineering; and Jesus Tejero Bravo is an assistant professor of medicine.
When carbon monoxide (CO) enters the body it attaches to hemoglobin molecules that normally carry oxygen in the blood. The more it is breathed in, the more CO attaches to hemoglobin and the less oxygen can be delivered throughout the body, according to an explanation from the New York Department of Health’s website. This lack of oxygen results in the symptoms associated with CO poisoning. Up to 40 percent of survivors will have neurocognitive deficits as a result of poisoning that can last for varying lengths of time, Rose said in a phone interview.
Globin Solutions developed a mutant version of the protein neuroglobin, a hemoglobin-like protein present in the brain. Gladwin and his team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that it could bind CO with an unusually high affinity, according to the company’s website. Based on prior knowledge of how the protein works, researchers engineered a mutant version of the protein, called Ngb H64Q, that was an even better scavenger of CO.
An early assessment of the antidote showed that the amount of time it takes to flush CO out of the body, the half-life, is only 23 seconds compared with 74 minutes for oxygen therapy. The antidote for the condition is designed to be a more attractive alternative to the current treatment option of transferring patients to one of the 250 treatment facilities equipped to provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy through pressurized hyperbaric chambers.
“It creates logistical barriers to treating people, transporting them in a timely fashion, particularly if they are based in a rural community,” Rose said. “There’s a great need for an antidote that you could give locally to reduce some of these devastating effects.”
Image: Abscent84, Getty Images
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