Take a deep breath for an IU pulmonary biotech start-up

Breathing easy isn’t just a euphemism for calming down and taking it easy.

It’s also the goal of a biotech start-up, Allinaire Therapeutics, which plans to use research from Indiana University School of Medicine to develop new therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Take a deep breath and try to read that last sentence aloud without stopping for air.

If you have COPD, you might have trouble doing so. The disease is characterized by inflammation and progressive destruction of lung tissue, leading to difficulty in breathing.

COPD, which encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis, is the fourth-largest cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 120,000 people last year.

But if Irina Petrache and Matthias Clauss have anything to say about it, people with COPD just might be able to speak long sentences without coming up for air two or three times.

The two scientists discovered a novel therapeutic target that plays a role in the lung inflammation that leads to the disease.

Clauss is associate research professor of cellular and integrative physiology at the IU School of Medicine.

Petrache is a pulmonary and critical care physician at the National Jewish Health Center in Denver. She previously worked as IU as professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology.

“The potential of our discovery is to slow down the progression of COPD and perhaps reverse it,” Clauss said.

What the two have done is demonstrated that a therapeutic antibody against that target “has strong potential” to slow the disease.

The two are scientific founders of Allinaire, the start-up, which is based in Cleveland. The biotech will be led by Douglas Hay, who formerly worked for more than 20 years of experience in drug discovery at GlaxoSmithKline.

Indiana University Research and Technology Corp., which commercializes intellectual property developed at IU, optioned the technology to Allinaire. The biotech was launched by BioMotiv, a Cleveland-based drug-development accelerator. Terms were not disclosed.

Since 1997, IU research has generated more than 2,700 inventions, generating $133 million in licensing and royalty income, the university said.


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