NIH sees a need for speed in Traverse Biosciences

Step on it: The NIH wants to accelerate Team Traverse (from left, Joseph Scaduto, Lorne Golub and Francis Johnson, with colleague Maria Ryan of SBU's School of Dental Medicine) and their flagship formula TRB-N0224.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

The National Institutes of Health has welcomed a rising Stony Brook biotech into its competitive Commercialization Accelerator Program.

Traverse Biosciences, which is attempting to commercialize novel drug candidates for the treatment of inflammatory diseases affecting animals and humans, has landed one of 80 annual slots in the CAP, a nine-month program hosted by the NIH and the Larta Institute, a California-based networking group promoting international innovation.

The NIH CAP – which is open only to NIH’s Phase II SBIR/STTR awardees – is “well-regarded for its combination of deep domain expertise and access to industry connections,” according to Traverse Biosciences, which noted Wednesday that program participation has “resulted in measurable gains and accomplishments” for other early-stage companies.

Traverse Biosciences qualified for the members-only honor when it shared a $1.32 million Phase II STTR award from the NIH with Stony Brook University’s School of Dental Medicine in 2016. The award funds pre-clinical safety and effectiveness studies of TRB-N0224, Traverse Biosciences’ flagship formula, specifically as it relates to periodontal disease treatment.

The promising TRB-N0224 is one of several patented compounds developed by Traverse Biosciences scientific cofounder Lorne Golub and SBU chemistry and pharmacological sciences legend Francis Johnson. It has been exclusively licensed to Traverse by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York for the development of new anti-inflammatory drugs.

Its potential as a periodontal disease treatment will take center stage through the CAP, which helps participants establish market relevance by fostering new commercial relationships and quantifying new revenue opportunities.

On the NIH accelerator’s Commercialization Transition Track, Traverse Biosciences will be exposed to customized tools that will help Golub, Johnson, company founder and CEO Joseph Scaduto and other Traverse officials “develop and execute plans and activities critical to commercialization,” the biotech said.

Traverse Biosciences will also receive direct feedback from executives and experts from the life sciences industries and the national investment community, as well as experts in regulatory affairs and scientific research – everything a growing biotech could need to secure the future funding that ultimately pushes TRB-N0224 through trials and into clinical use, according to Scaduto.

“Acceptance into the competitive NIH Commercialization Accelerator Program will undoubtedly allow Traverse Biosciences to better position the company to attract and secure additional non-dilutive funding, private investment and established strategic partners,” the CEO said Wednesday.

Acceptance into the NIH CAP also creates nice 2017 bookends for Traverse Biosciences, which had a big winter that included a new U.S. patent – covering a proprietary library of plant-based chemicals including TRB-N0224, the third patent involving the Golub and Johnson’s breakthrough compound – and a patent-and-material transfer agreement with what Scaduto called “a top-10 global animal-health company,” which is privately testing TRB-N0224 against a host of animal illnesses.