Industry Articles| Discovering Biotech Startups
Welcome to the next edition of the Sponsor Atlas series, which focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In this edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Nitrome Biosciences, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging Wyoming - based biotech startup. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.
Nitrome Biosciences is developing drugs against a new class of enzymes, and will be initially targeting Parkinson's disease. The company is discovering and characterizing these enzymes in hopes of paving the way to new disease-modifying drugs for multiple aging-dependent diseases. While the initial focus is on Parkinson's disease, Nitrome’s platform may be extended to include other neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease and even cancer in the near future.
Nitrome Biosciences does not currently have any registered trademarks, but they do have a decent website with some information about their executive team and current research, including some of their most recent awards. Nitrome’s principal place of business, as noted on the business entity search, is located at 435 Henley Rd, P.O. Box 4971, Jackson, WY 83001. They’re also listed as a resident with the University of California’s QB3-MBC BioLabs accelerator facility. Most of their operations are taking place at the MBC BioLabs location at 953 Indiana Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. The MBC Biolabs location, established in 2013, features 24,000 sq. ft. of lab and office space in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighbourhood, just a short walk from the UCSF Mission Bay Campus.
As noted on the business entity search, Nitrome Biosciences was registered in Delaware as a C-Corp with a filing date on 3/21/2018 and also has a registered agent address. Nitrome Biosciences is primarily categorized under Drug Discovery, and current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of <$1M and employs a staff of approximately 1-10. Otherwise, it has been difficult to find any business activities about this company, but considering their QB3 residency, substantial investment backing, and with multiple awards under their belt, we think they are in a great position to fund a ton of outsourcing work in the near future, with more on that below.
Nitrome Biosciences is an angel-backed company with operations within the JLABS incubator space located at the MBC BioLabs facility. JLABS provides a large amount of capital and working environment for emerging companies who are on the brink of scientific discoveries and creating breakthrough products for their industry. JLABS, an accelerator firm owned by Johnson & Johnson and headquartered in San Diego, California. Ever since JLABS debuted with its flagship location in San Diego in 2012, the incubator division of Johnson & Johnson has supported dozens of early startup biotech companies that are innovating across four strategic areas of interest: consumer products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and digital health.
During startup mode, Nitrome has received multiple awards to further their research efforts, as well as a substantial amount of funding from various investors in order to capitalize on the progress of developing their novel therapeutic platform. In 2018, Celgene and MBC BioLabs announced that Nitrome Biosciences won the MBC BioLabs Celgene Golden Ticket, which is awarded to rising startups, and offers exclusive features at the accelerator, including rent support for one year’s use of an MBC BioLabs bench and the MBC Fast-track core facilities. Nitrome’s team had the opportunity to work with and receive mentorship from the Celgene team on their various drug discovery and development endeavors. Then in 2019, they competed against more than 40 other early stage biotech companies and also won the AbbVie Golden Ticket at MBC BioLabs, giving them another opportunity to use the facility’s state-of-the-art equipment and labspace to gather data and make important connections with the scientific community, and even more importantly, with AbbVie mentors. Nitrome also received a second award in 2019, a Target Advancement grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF), in which the funding was used to accelerate Nitrome's research on their new drug target for Parkinson's disease.
According to the Sec Form D reports, Nitrome Biosciences has raised $1.75M in total over multiple rounds of venture capital funding, which includes dozens of reputable investors. So far the company has done a very good job of staying under the radar, especially with their current amount of awards and venture capital. Nitrome will use the subsequent funding to further activities in the purification and characterization of their novel enzyme platform, including the research and development of additional therapeutics for age-related diseases. Even though the company is at a very early stage, we can definitely expect to see an increased need for outsourcing activities in the near future. We think business development teams in the realms of large molecule CMOs, preclinical CROs with animal model development for Parkinson’s Disease, and bioanalytical service providers with experience in protein purification and characterization, assay development, HTS, SDS-PAGE and ELISA testing should definitely have Nitrome Biosciences on their radar for the next few years.
Nitrome’s Pipeline and R&D Focus
Nitrome Biosciences was established to build a novel platform to therapeutically target a newly discovered class of nitration enzymes, initially for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Nitrome's products will eventually include additional drugs for multiple other aging-dependent diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease and cancer, enabling patients to successfully treat their conditions with drugs made of nitration enzymes. If successful, the research team will find and characterize a new class of enzymes and will also have a proprietary development path for disease-modifying drugs for multiple types of diseases. Nitrome will be starting with Parkinson’s disease but this may be extended to include other neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease and cancer in the near future.
Specifically, Nitrome has found that alpha-synuclein nitration and aggregation — a hallmark of Parkinson's — is catalyzed by a newly identified enzyme that they have interestingly termed Synuclein Nitrase. Nitrome's initial drug products are ultimately intended to inhibit Synuclein Nitrase and slow down or completely halt Parkinson's disease progression. The research team at Nitrome is currently examining synuclein nitrase, which plays a role in alpha-synuclein aggregation and could potentially be a new drug target. The alpha-synuclein pathway is an innovative target for Parkinson's therapeutics, and their research will have the potential to further mediate pathology and advance toward treatments that slow or stop disease progression for Parkinson’s Disease and beyond.
- Dr. Irene Griswold-Prenner - CEO/CSO of Nitrome Biosciences, was previously a Cofounder and the CSO of Imago Pharmaceuticals. Imago, a privately held pharmaceutical company, is engaged in the development of drug candidates directed against JNK for fibrosis and neurodegenerative disease treatment. Previously Irene worked at Elan Pharmaceuticals, contributed to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis Programs. She received her BA from Colorado University in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Ph. D. from University of Chicago in Physiology and Cellular Pharmacology. 
- Ephraim Heller, MBA - Chairman of Nitrome Biosciences, is the Founding CEO of SynAgile, a startup developing novel drug delivery systems for Parkinson’s and other diseases. Before that, he was Founding CEO and later VP of Marketing and VP of Business Development at TheraSense Inc., a maker of blood glucose monitoring systems for people with diabetes. TheraSense went public in 2001, sales grew to $270 million in 2003, and the company was acquired by Abbott for $1.2 billion in 2004. Ephraim holds over 100 issued US patents. He received a BA in Physics from Harvard and an MBA from Yale. 
- Dr. Zach Hall - Director of Nitrome Biosciences, is a retired neuroscientist whose laboratory studied the molecular structure and development of the neuromuscular junction. He received his Ph.D. with Ed Kravitz at Harvard University in 1966. He then held a series of administrative positions, including the CEO of EnVivo Pharmaceuticals and later Associate Dean for Research at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. His last position was as the first president of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a new state agency to fund stem cell research in California. 
- Bill McDowell - Director of Nitrome Biosciences, is retired from Royal Bank of Canada's Wealth Management division after 35 years with it and predecessor companies. His brokerage career occurred in Denver and Casper, Wyoming. His employment allowed him to be active in local government in which he held a number of elected partisan and non-partisan positions. He serves as the designated director for Breakthrough 307, the lead funding agent for Nitrome Biosciences convertible debt offering. 
- Dr. Regis B. Kelly - Director of Nitrome Biosciences, is also the Director of QB3, one of the four California Institutes for Science and Innovation. Scientists on the three QB3 campuses (UCB, UCSC & UCSF) work at the interface of the physical and biological sciences. The QB3 innovation team converts discoveries into practical benefits for society. As Director, Dr. Kelly helped launch two QB3-associated companies, QB3@953, a Life Sciences Startup incubator and Mission Bay Capital, a venture fund. His training was at Harvard, Stanford, Caltech and the University of Edinburgh. 
- Dr. Karen Chen - Director of Nitrome Biosciences, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation whose mission is to accelerate the development of a treatment for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of death in young children. Dr. Chen is responsible for overseeing the scientific and drug discovery programs, as well as managing the operations activities at the SMA Foundation. She has over 30 years of neuroscience drug development experience including holding director-level positions at Roche Palo Alto and Elan Pharmaceuticals working primarily on therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. She has over 50 scientific publications and several patents. 
Nitrome Biosciences has discovered an innovative treatment for Parkinson’s disease that could halt the disease's unrelenting progression and has the potential to truly create a multibillion-dollar enterprise if they’re research is on point. Their development team has opened up an entirely new area of biology—the regulated nitration of proteins in healthy and disease states, creating multiple possibilities of new drug products for a number of widely known diseases and conditions. The drug candidates were developed against a new class of enzymes, initially targeting Parkinson’s Disease. Nitrome has found and characterized this new class of enzymes and will eventually have a proprietary development path for disease-modifying drugs for multiple conditions. They’re starting with Parkinson’s disease but this may be extended to include other neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease and even cancer. Simply put, their platform, if successfully developed, would revolutionize the standard of care for millions of people. Multi-billion dollar drug markets are predicted for these diseases, including PD.
"Highly nitrated and misfolded proteins play important roles in multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis," said Ephraim Heller, Board Chairman for Nitrome Biosciences. "Nitrome will deploy its platform technology to develop therapies for multiple diseases involving enzymatic protein nitration." 
Nitrome Biosciences is definitely on track to have some major innovations in the biotech industry, and it’s difficult to say exactly when they will come out of stealth mode, but we’re thinking it should be within the next few years, so be sure to keep them on your schedule and look out for our next edition in this series coming soon.
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