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Dr. Sherine Chen, Dr. James Chou, Dr. Richard Himes
Neuroene Therapeutics co-founders Dr. Sherine Chan (left) and Dr. James Chou (center); Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Richard Himes (right)

Treating Epilepsy with Vitamin K Analogs

Neuroene Therapeutics, a startup company born from unique research by two MUSC investigators, secured a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $225,000 in July from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Neuroene Therapeutics is using the phase 1 STTR grant to help further develop a novel class of compounds for treating epilepsy. In the U.S. alone, epilepsy’s estimated direct and indirect costs total $15.5 billion, according to the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences.

“This class of compounds has a new molecular mechanism that makes it different from any of the current anti-seizure drugs available to patients with epilepsy,” said Neuroene Therapeutics chief operating officer and co-founder Sherine Chan, Ph.D., associate professor of drug discovery and biomedical sciences. “An estimated 30 to 40 percent of epilepsy patients do not have sufficient control of their seizures with current treatments. We intend to provide a new generation of anti-seizure drugs that is clearly needed.”

Launched in May 2015, Neuroene Therapeutics is based on Chan’s collaborative research with James C. Chou, Ph.D., associate professor of drug discovery and biomedical sciences. Chou is also a Neuroene Therapeutics co-founder and serves as chief executive officer. Their focus is on vitamin K analogs, not only for epilepsy, but also for other difficult-to-treat neurological disorders. Studies at MUSC and NINDS reveal that these compounds produce fewer side effects than current treatments, as vitamin K is a safe macronutrient essential for health and function of the central nervous system.

The MUSC Foundation for Research Development (FRD), the university’s technology transfer office, assisted Chan and Chou in establishing the startup company and also guided them through the STTR application as well as other grant opportunities. The S.C. Research Authority has awarded a separate $50,000 grant to the company.

CuRE Innovations, LLC, a company developing advanced dental materials that were invented at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine, was also awarded a phase 1 STTR through FRD’s assistance.