Sen Gupta holds a vial of human platelet-rich plasma, which he tests against synthetic platelet particles to see cooperative activity.
The Department of Defense invests big in a Case biotech startup
Research from the lab of Anirban Sen Gupta, PhD, highlighted in the Winter 2020 Case Alumnus, continues to advance blood technology while capturing broader interest and support.
In July, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) awarded Sen Gupta and his team in the Department of Biomedical Engineering a $3.8 million grant to develop freeze-dried synthetic platelets for the battlefield, where they could be used to treat wounded soldiers and save their lives.
Sen Gupta, a professor of biomedical engineering, will work with partners at the University of Pittsburgh for in vivo testing of the platelets and with manufacturing partners at Haima Therapeutics, a biotechnology company he co-founded in 2016 to commercialize the technology.
The DOD award will enable Sen Gupta to recruit new students and researchers for his 15-member lab in the Wickenden Building, where they pursue ideas that some doctors see as game changing.
Sen Gupta and his team have developed synthetic platelets that mimic real platelets and can staunch bleeding. Real platelets are highly perishable and always in short supply. Haima’s patented product, called SynthoPlate, is long lasting and portable. Its designed to be intravenously injected at the scene of a trauma.
In 2018, Sun Gupta and Christa Pawlowski ’11, PhD ’15, launched Haima Therapeutics to commercialize the technology. Pawlowski is the company’s chief scientific officer while Sen Gupta serves as an advisor. The university initially gave Haima the option of licensing the technology while the founders built the company. In June, the license became exclusive. It spans the 20-year life of key patents.
“It’s exciting and rewarding,” Sen Gupta said. “In my lab, the goal has always been to push the boundaries of translation. This will bring the technology closer to a conversation with the FDA.”
Haima now intends to scale up its manufacturing processes and test the safety of the therapy of its artificial platelets in animal studies. The goal is to launch human clinical trials in two years.
“We think that’s achievable,” said Michael Bruckman, PhD, Haima’s chief operating officer and interim CEO. “All the data looks really great.”
“This is a prime example of CWRU’s leading biotechnology research addressing a vast unmet medical need,” Stephanie Weidenbecher, senior licensing manager at the university’s Technology Transfer Office, said in a statement. “We are excited to build a long-term business partnership with Haima to accelerate the development of SynthoPlate.”
Christa Pawlowski ’11, PhD ’15, is co-founder and chief scientific officer at Haima Therapeutics.