Traverse Biosciences inks R&D, licensing deal

Traverse CEO Joseph ScadutoTraverse Biosciences CEO Joseph Scaduto said his firm has inked an R&D and licensing deal that could lead to millions of dollars in revenue.

BY GREGORY ZELLER // Stony Brook-based startup Traverse Biosciences has inked an exclusive R&D agreement that could lead to an $8 million sublicensing option.

Traverse, a resident of the Long Island High Technology Incubator at Stony Brook University, announced today that it has executed a $250,000 cooperative research and development agreement with Kansas-based Aratana Therapeutics to advance Traverse’s leading drug candidate, TRB-N0224, a potential treatment for periodontal disease in dogs and cats.

Traverse Biosciences has also granted Aratana Therapeutics an exclusive sublicensing option. If Aratana exercises the option, Traverse will be eligible for up to $8.25 million in up-front and milestone payments, as well as royalties on TRB-N0224 global sales.

Traverse Biosciences founder and CEO Joseph Scaduto wouldn’t elaborate on the milestones, noting only that they involve approvals and “particular sales levels they may achieve with the product” – though he added he was confident TRB-N0224 would hit those marks.

“We wouldn’t agree to them if we didn’t think they were possible,” he told Innovate LI.

The $250,000 included in the R&D agreement will be used primarily to conduct a proof‐of‐concept evaluation of TRB‐N0224, according to a Traverse Biosciences release announcing the deal. TRB-N0224 co-inventor Lorne Golub, a distinguished professor in SBU’s School of Dental Medicine, said the Aratana Therapeutics deal “provides a springboard to accelerate product development.”

As for the cut of TRB-N0224’s future sales, Scaduto described a “tiered royalty structure” with Traverse Biosciences’ percentage increasing from single digits to double digits, depending on how well the product does.

“If the product is more successful, Traverse is more successful,” Scaduto said.

Last month, Traverse Biosciences executed a worldwide licensing agreement with the Research Foundation of the State University of New York that basically allowed Traverse to shop around TRB-N0224. Scaduto noted that his startup “has been cultivating relationships with a host of companies in the animal health industry,” but said Aratana, which boasts more than15 novel therapeutics in its “development pipeline,” was first with a deal offer.

“Aratana was the most aggressive in negotiating a cooperative research and development agreement,” Scaduto said. “As opposed to some of the other companies we’ve been speaking with, they were willing to invest early. Most of the other companies were more interested in waiting for more data before investing, but Aratana was willing to do the deal.”

Steven St. Peter, founder and president of Aratana Therapeutics, said in a written statement that his company was “pleased to initiative this strategic partnership … given the opportunity that TRB-N0224 represents as a potential therapeutic.”

While Aratana’s pipeline is filled with therapies to treat a variety of diseases affecting companion animals, TRB-N0224 would be the company’s first treatment of an oral health condition. The company recently announced that it was enrolling patients in two nationwide market-development studies to evaluate a treatment for canine T-cell lymphoma, and that it had regained commercial rights for AT-004, a treatment for canine B-cell lymphoma that had been licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Canine periodontal disease affects approximately 80 percent of dogs by age 3, particularly smaller breeds. The disease can lead to serious oral health complications and can impair liver, kidney, cardiac and metabolic functions, according to the Traverse Biosciences release.