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Archive for Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lawrence therapeutics company among latest recipients of investment money from KBA

February 21, 2012

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The Kansas Bioscience Authority’s investment committee approved just under $2 million in new investments Monday, including funding for a therapeutics company in Lawrence.

Though Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback withheld part of KBA’s annual appropriation of $35 million approved by legislators in the 2011 session last month, KBA leaders said they still had plenty of money available to fund the investments approved by the committee Monday.

“We have cash balances right now that will cover the work approved today,” said David Vranicar, the authority’s interim CEO. He said the authority had enough money to cover more than 12 months of a reasonable level of new investments.

The committee approved just under $191,000 for Mencuro Therapeutics Inc. in Lawrence, which is working to develop drugs that are an alternative to morphine for pain management.

That company uses research from Thomas Prisinzano, a Kansas University associate professor of medicinal chemistry, in an effort to develop drugs that don’t have the side effects of morphine, such as dependency and tolerance.

Though that action does not require further approval, the committee approved several investments that still must be considered by the KBA’s full board of directors at its meeting March 6, including:

• A $350,000 award for the Center for Animal Health Innovation in Olathe, which is focused on identifying and developing new animal health products.

• An investment of just under $75,000 for Aptakon, based in Kansas City, Kan. The company is focusing on economical production of unique antibodies.

• A $1.3 million research and development award, to be distributed over two years, for Aratana Therapeutics, based in Kansas City, Kan. The funds will support clinical trials and studies to help move the company’s two animal drug compounds toward regulatory approval.

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