A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "Antibiotics Start-Ups," features profiles of Indel Therapeutics, MicuRx Pharmaceuticals and Trius Therapeutics. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: DFine, NexeonMedSystems, SmartCells and Somnus Therapeutics.
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Trius Therapeutics Inc. intends to create drugs that are capable of combating resistant bacteria and are meaningfully differentiated from currently marketed products. It says its lead candidate will be "a true second-generation" version of linezolid (Zyvox), as yet the sole marketed compound in the class of drugs known as oxazolidinones. Linezolid's proven ability to combat Gram-positive bacteria such as MRSA and Streptococcus has made it a blockbuster on track to generate $1 billion in revenues this year. If Trius can develop an antibiotic that is safer and more effective than Zyvox, and that also possesses additional attributes that improve on the original drug, that new compound could commandeer significant market share.
SmartCells' SmartInsulin is a once-daily subcutaneous injectable formulation of insulin for the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. SmartInsulin comprises insulin molecules conjugated to a biocompatible and biodegradable polymer, which binds to a multivalent glucose-binding molecule. Once injected, it self-assembles to form an insoluble matrix. Insulin is released from the system only when the therapeutic is unbound by the presence of a specific glucose concentration.
Somnus Therapeutics is developing a timed-release formulation of zaleplon, a GABA agonist that is currently approved for short-term difficulty in falling asleep. According to company, its version of the drug is expected to offer patients an initial two hours of drug-free delta sleep, followed by the controlled release of a short-acting active ingredient, which may allow people to awaken more refreshed and alert.