News

Perscitus awarded federal grant

Perscitus Biosciences was awared nearly $250,000 in a grant from the IRS and Department of Health and Human Services through Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Program Grant within the Affordable Care Act. From the IRS: "This program was designed to provide tax credits and grants to small firms that show significant potential to produce new and cost-saving therapies, support U.S. jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness." IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman added, "This new tax credit was designed to promote medical research that could improve health and save lives."
Source: Madison.com


Medical College gets expertise in bringing drugs to market; start-up stays in state, too

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel (Source)

September 19, 2010

James Thomas knows how clinical trials work.

During his five years overseeing them at Ohio State University's cancer center, the number of trials conducted there soared.

On Sept. 1, Thomas brought his know-how to a similar job at the Medical College of Wisconsin's cancer center.

The move gives the Medical College a doctor who knows how to maneuver the regulatory thickets involved in getting drugs to market. That kind of expertise will bolster the school's efforts to help commercialize more research and earn a designation as a comprehensive cancer center from the National Cancer Institute.

It will also keep Thomas' start-up company, Perscitus Biosciences LLC, in Wisconsin.

Thomas started Perscitus - Latin for "clever" - in 2006. The Madison company is developing two technologies: a kit to help researchers test proteins for desirable qualities, and a compound that would protect healthy cells from the harmful effects of radiation and chemotherapy - which could allow for more aggressive use of those treatments.

"It's great that he's entrepreneurial," said Jonathan I. Ravdin, the Medical College's dean. "This is about translating therapies into clinical practice, and the most difficult part is going from discoveries to application."

Thomas is one of six faculty members whom Ming You, the Medical College's new cancer center director, has hired in the last two months, Ravdin said.

Thomas is chairman of the American Association of Cancer Institutes Clinical Research Group, a national group that helps cancer centers share best practices for performing clinical trials, and he is one of the "most accomplished" clinical trial office leaders in the country, Ravdin said.

In his new job, Thomas will oversee cancer research and try to bring new medicines and treatments from the lab into the clinic.

A Union Grove native who got a medical degree and PhD from the Medical College, Thomas joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty in 1998. He took a job directing clinical trial activity at Ohio State's cancer center in 2005. During his tenure, the center doubled the number of patients enrolled in therapeutic clinical trials to more than 1,400. That was during a time when the number of trials being done at many other institutions was slowing.

Clinical trials are important for testing new therapies in patients, and an institution's ability to do them well is a key factor in getting designated as a comprehensive cancer center.

Having someone like Thomas, who can deal with the difficult regulatory processes required to get drugs to market, will help accelerate the Medical College's technology transfer efforts, said Kathy Collins, business development director for BioForward, an industry trade group.

"They strategically hired somebody who's not just an academic or a researcher. He's got the business development, economic development and technology transfer background," Collins said. "He's a whole different breed."

Thomas said he was attracted to the cancer center because it houses several world-class research efforts, has a strong young faculty and is run by You, a prolific researcher with an international reputation.

Also factoring prominently in Thomas returning to Wisconsin were important achievements in proving the potential of Perscitus' compounds, he said.

Perscitus already has done some animal testing on its radiation and chemotherapy protection compound, said BioForward's Collins, who evaluated the company as part of her previous job at the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

Perscitus received $160,000 from two federal innovation grants and a $250,000 low-interest loan from the state Commerce Department, Thomas said. The company has raised $140,000 of angel funding and is seeking to raise another $2 million in a second round, he said.


Noted Cancer Clinician & Researcher Returns to Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (September 9, 2010) - James P. Thomas, MD, PhD, has been appointed professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at The Medical College of Wisconsin and to the medical staff of Froedtert Hospital, a major teaching affiliate of the College.

Dr. Thomas comes to the Medical College from Ohio State University, where he was an associate professor of medicine in the University's Comprehensive Cancer Center directing clinical trial activity of 85 research staff.

A native of Wisconsin, Dr. Thomas returns to the Medical College where he received his PhD in biochemistry in 1989, and his MD in 1991. His clinical research interests are in early phase drug development and he has led several phase I trials in human studies. His basic science research is in the area of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cancer treatment. ROS and free radicals are rogue molecules containing oxygen that can severely damage cell structures. He is a key player in the search for antioxidants as a protection against cell damage that can lead to cancer and other diseases, and has published over 70 scientific articles.

"His qualifications and vast experience in this field will be a major asset to the College's cancer programs in basic and clinical research," said Jonathan Ravdin, MD, dean and executive vice president.

Dr. Thomas is chairman and chief executive officer of Perscitus Biosciences, LLC, a company he formed in 2006, and has patents in his field of study. It is located at the Technology, Education and Commerce Incubator Center at the Madison Area Technical College in Madison. The company recently received a second National Cancer Institute (NCI) Small Business Innovation Research Award.

"This award from NCI is a tremendous opportunity for our company, providing the resources to further develop our technologies and attract additional investment. We have rapidly achieved our early proof of concept milestones and this investment will help position Perscitus for the next steps in the development of these promising technologies," said Dr. Thomas.

The company's aim is to develop and commercialize two technologies based on reactive oxygen biochemistry. The first technology is a compound that selectively protects normal cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The second is a method for determining the function of unknown proteins by identifying protein binding partners in intact cells using reactive oxygen.

According to Mary Horowitz, MD, scientific director for the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research at the College, Robert A. Uihlein, Jr. Professor in Hematologic Research, and cancer specialist practicing at Froedtert Hospital, "Dr. Thomas' unique experience in leading a large clinical trials program in a major cancer center will be an asset to our own cancer center's rapidly growing trials program and will further increase availability of state of the art medical care to our community."

Dr. Thomas is a member of numerous professional organizations and is the current chair of the Association of American Cancer Institutes Clinical Research Initiative. He is an ad hoc manuscript reviewer for major journals including Lancet, Oncology, Annals of Surgery and Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology and has served as an external reviewer of the NCI Medical Branch.

After receiving his MD degree he completed an internal medicine residency while simultaneously serving a postdoctoral research fellowship in biophysics, studying free radical biochemistry at the Medical College. He then went on to complete a medical oncology fellowship and joined the medical oncology faculty at the University of Wisconsin in 1998. He moved to Ohio State University in 2005.

Source


Governor Doyle Announces $250,000 Award to Perscitus Biosciences

MADISON (June 7, 2008) - Governor Jim Doyle today announced that Perscitus Biosciences, LLC, Madison, Dane County, has received a $250,000 loan from the Department of Commerce.

"Wisconsin is America's leader in biotechnology," Governor Doyle said. "My Administration and I are committed to keeping all of our state's companies and workers at the cutting edge of this industry, to ensure Wisconsin remains home to the best research, the best innovation, and the best companies - giving our state a major advantage in the global economy."

"This award from the State of Wisconsin is a tremendous opportunity for our company, providing the resources to further develop our technologies and attract additional investment." commented James Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., CEO and Chairman of Perscitus Biosciences. "We have rapidly achieved our early proof of concept milestones and this investment will help position Perscitus for the next steps in the development of these promising technologies."

Perscitus Biosciences, LLC was founded in 2006 to develop and commercialize two technologies based on reactive oxygen biochemistry. The first technology is a compound that selectively protects normal cells from the toxic effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The second is a method for determining the function of unknown proteins by identifying protein binding partners in intact cells using reactive oxygen. The company will use the loan to purchase equipment and hire researchers.


Governor Doyle Qualifies Two Technology Companies For Investor Tax Credits

MADISON (June 26, 2008) - Governor Jim Doyle today announced that the Department of Commerce (Commerce) has qualified two small businesses for investor tax credits under the Angel Investor and Venture Fund Tax Credit programs.

"Spurring more venture capital investment is essential to the state's economic growth," Governor Doyle said. "By encouraging investors to make crucial investments, we are turning great ideas into viable, job-creating businesses. Today, new technology firms are starting and expanding all across Wisconsin."

"This certification from the Department of Commerce is a tremendous opportunity for our company, providing the resources to attract additional investment, further develop our technologies, and hire additional research professionals." said James Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., CEO and Chairman of Perscitus Biosciences.

The qualified businesses are as follows:

Perscitus Biosciences, LLC, Madison, Dane County

Founded in 2006, this company is developing and commercializing a novel chemoprotectant molecule and a protein assay. The molecule has shown an ability to protect healthy human cells against the harmful effects of chemotherapy and radiation. The assay allows researchers to accelerate the identification of unknown binding proteins.

HTSS, LLC, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County

Founded in 2007, the company is developing and marketing a patent-pending monitoring technology that will reduce injuries during exercise regimen. The technology uses electromyography and software to analyze muscle activity.

The Angel Investor and Venture Fund Tax Credit programs offer Wisconsin income tax credits to angel investors and investors in seed-stage venture capital funds. The people that invest in the businesses are able to claim tax credits under the legislation the Governor signed in April 2004.

These programs are designed to increase the supply of both qualified angel investors and investors in qualified venture capital funds. The tax credits are available only for investments made in technology businesses qualified by Commerce. As Commerce qualifies businesses for investment, it will list them on the Commerce Act 255 website.