Accelerator Life Science Partners, a Seattle-based life sciences investment fund and umbrella company, unveiled its newest company this week. Proniras Corporation was created to develop the seizure drug tezampanel, originally created by Eli Lilly, with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).
The contract starts with $3 million for nine months, but if the company hits a series of milestones, the deal could reach $89.5 million over five years.
“As recent events have clearly demonstrated, the need for medical countermeasures that can effectively treat nerve agent exposure is sadly more than theoretical,” said Christopher Toombs, the company’s chief scientific officer and co-founder. “Tezampanel holds great potential as a solution to this serious challenge, having shown favorable safety and pharmacokinetic profiles in clinical trials for acute migraine and demonstrating efficacy in preclinical models of nerve agent-induced seizures. Proniras is pleased to have the opportunity to work with BARDA to improve our nation’s health and security preparedness.”
As a seizure treatment, tezampanel would be unique among current offerings. The drug works by blocking certain receptors in the central nervous system, preventing excessive neurological activity. Most seizure medications today are benzodiazepines, which are thought to work in the opposite way: By reducing the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain.