NIH backs SBU-based biotech’s tuberculosis effort

Coming soon: A new diagnostic assay for detecting tuberculosis stages in children is the target of a new research grant earned by Setauket biotech Chronus Pharmaceuticals.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A Setauket-based pharmaceuticals startup specializing in biomarker analysis has landed a chunky National Institutes of Health research award.

Chronus Pharmaceuticals, founded and managed by researchers representing Stony Brook University and an assortment of other prestigious research institutions, announced this week that it has received a $299,172 Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer award from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The award, received in partnership with SBU’s Department of Chemistry, will be used to study the feasibility of an antibody diagnostic for detecting childhood tuberculosis, the company said in a statement.

Nicole Sampson: TB continued.

Chronus Pharmaceuticals – a 2014 startup co-founded by SBU chemistry professor Peter Tonge and Stewart Fisher, a senior vice president at Massachusetts-based C4 Therapeutics – is working up a diagnostic test to detect tuberculosis disease in small-volume blood samples from pediatric patients using an antibody-based assay.

No such test currently exists – and noting that one-third of the world’s population has TB infection, and children “account for approximately 10 percent of the total TB burden,” the biotech rates the need for a diagnostic TB tool as “extremely high.”

The research funded by the Phase I STTR will be led by company co-owner and President Nicole Sampson, also an SBU chemistry professor and former chairwoman of Stony Brook’s chemistry department.

In addition to cofounders Tonge and Fisher, Chronus Pharmaceuticals principals also include co-owner and Vice President Susan Haney, a research assistant and preparations technician at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

The TB-focused research will leverage Chronus Pharmaceutical’s “deep knowledge of metabolic pathways, focused metabolite detection and slow-binding drug/target kinetics,” the company said.