Trana Discovery, Inc., an infectious disease drug discovery technology company, announced that two of the Company’s drug discovery assays, the novel anti-HIV 201 HTS Drug Discovery Assay and the Staphylococcus aureus Antibiotic Drug Discovery Assay, qualified to receive federal grant funding under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a result, Trana will receive a cash grant totaling approximately $375,000. To date, Trana has received over $1.7 million for the development of its technology that identifies new therapeutic compounds that work through a unique mechanism of action: inhibition of the target pathogen’s ability to use transfer RNA (tRNA) essential for propagation.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created a $1.0 billion federal program to provide tax credits and grants to small firms that show significant potential to produce new and cost-saving therapies, support jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. The National Institute of Health oversaw the awarding of the grants under the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program.
The Trana HIV 201 High-Throughput (HTS) Assay is designed to identify compounds that inhibit the use of tRNALys3 by HIV and has the ability to select compounds with anti-HIV bioactivity. Because tRNA is essential for HIV replication, disruption of the virus’ ability to use tRNA would represent a novel target for anti-HIV drug therapy.
Through a partnership with Southern Research Institute, the HIV assay was fully optimized for high-throughput screening and was deployed in three separate screening campaigns against over 120,000 diverse compounds. Compounds that showed bioactivity were identified in each screening and now a total of 51 chemistries have demonstrated anti-HIV bioactivity in cell-based assays. These chemistries are grouped within a few distinct families that constitute a new class of HIV antivirals.
Trana Discovery is in a position to license the HIV assay, drug class and lead compounds to qualified pharmaceutical companies for further development. The assay itself can be used to search company-owned compound libraries, confirm the mechanism of action for black-hole leads, or screen other commercially available compound libraries.
“HIV infections remain a chronic disease with no immediate cure on the horizon,” said Steve Peterson, CEO of Trana Discovery. “Therapies that inhibit the virus through novel approaches, such as with tRNA inhibition, will give rise to the ability of clinicians to provide many years of successful treatments for patients chronically infected with HIV without leading to AIDS defining events and infectious complications.”
Development of the HIV 201 HTS Assay was performed under the DAIDS, NIAID contract N01-AI-70042; Roger Miller, Project Officer.
Trana Discovery is also developing of a new HTS assay capable of selectively identifying compounds that inhibit the reproduction of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The assay is designed to identify compounds that inhibit an essential tRNA that is specific to Staph aureus. The project is intended to advance this assay to full HTS functionality for licensing to pharmaceutical companies. Development of the assay was made possible by a $250,000 Small Business Research Loan awarded to the company by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
“We are delighted that our efforts to commercialize these promising technologies have been recognized by the many organizations who are supporting this work,” said Peterson.
Date: November 22, 2010
Source: Trana Discovery, Inc.