CCIT Resources Support Grace Therapeutics’ Mission to Develop Drug-Delivery Technologies for Rare Diseases
Led by George George Kottayil (left) and Vimal Kavuru (right), Grace Therapeutics develops drug-delivery technologies for people suffering from rare and orphan diseases.
North Brunswick, N.J. (May 24, 2018) – A quest for an optimal location for development of drug-delivery technologies for people suffering from rare and orphan diseases brought Grace Therapeutics to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA’s) Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) in 2014.
Co-founders George Kottayil and Vimal Kavuru have experience launching, growing, and successfully exiting multi-million-dollar pharmaceutical companies.
With that strategic insight, the entrepreneurs were first attracted to CCIT, New Jersey’s leading life sciences incubator, for several reasons, including its quick application-to-move-in time and its ready-to-use lab space. Then they discovered the added bonuses of locating at CCIT – its amenities, array of resources, and proximity to universities. CCIT offers 27 wet labs, the most of any incubator in New Jersey. The 46,000-square-foot CCIT includes both small and large labs, as well as offices, and is located in the heart of the State’s research corridor.
“It took less than three months from the time we applied to the time we had a fully-functional lab,” Kottayil, Grace Therapeutics’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said. “We have been impressed with CCIT and its staff from day one and have continued to reap the benefits of locating here.”
Grace Therapeutics develops novel drug-delivery technologies that Kottayil and Kavuru say will dramatically improve the clinical outcomes of drugs previously approved for use in humans. The company focuses on therapies for rare and orphan diseases, conditions that affect fewer than 200,000 people nationwide.
The company expects to submit its first New Drug Application later this year. Known as GTX-104, the injectable drug is designed to help people with Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH). Caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm, SAH is a rare and life-threatening medical emergency in which bleeding occurs in the subarachnoid space between the brain and the skull. An estimated 70,000 patients are affected by SAH each year. GTX-104 is one of three products in Grace Therapeutics’ pipeline that are in the late stages of development.
Grace Therapeutics has also benefited from having Rutgers University nearby. Kavuru pointed to the company’s ability to use the university’s Chemistry Department and its biotechnology lab, including analytical instruments, and to seek advice from knowledgeable professors.
“New Jersey’s pharmaceutical landscape has shifted in recent years, presenting new opportunities for smaller companies to emerge onto the scene,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “By providing affordable incubation space and access to critical resources, we are ensuring that growing companies like Grace Therapeutics have the tools they need to compete on a global scale.”
Kavuru, a registered pharmacist and Grace Therapeutics’ Chairman, has more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical sector with a successful track record of business leadership and creating niche life science/pharmaceutical companies. He recently joined CCIT’s Advisory Board, which enables tenants to seek guidance on a wide range of topics. The Board is comprised of professionals from the many types of organizations that are involved with growing companies, such as the ones housed at CCIT. Accountants, lawyers, trade organizations, large corporations, universities, consultants, hospitals, and even CCIT graduates, are represented on the Board.
@NJEDATech asked Kottayil about his company’s experience at CCIT and its plans for the future:
Why did you choose to grow Grace Therapeutics in New Jersey?
New Jersey provides the ideal environment to start and grow early stage pharmaceutical ventures. The state offers access to high quality research and development structure, capital and qualified personnel — an essential ingredient for a company and an idea to take root. Plus, the resources provided by the EDA through incubators like CCIT vastly improve the chance of success for companies like ours.
What do you consider Grace Therapeutics’ biggest success to date?
In less than four years, Grace Therapeutics has advanced three proprietary late-stage “first-in-class” drug products from bench to clinic. This was made possible not just by good science, but also access to resources provided by the state.
Aside from submitting an NDA for GTX-104, what’s on the horizon for your company?
Two of our products will soon enter Phase 3 clinical studies: GTX-101 for the treatment of Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN), a complication from shingles that leaves a burning pain long after the rashes and burns are gone. GTX-102 for the treatment of Ataxia Telangiectasia (AT), a rare genetic disease that affects children causing progressive loss of muscle control, immune system problems and a high rate of cancer. Equally as exciting, we have two novel orphan drug products in our pipeline that we envision to be the first treatment options in their respective therapeutic spaces.
Applications for CCIT are currently being accepted for new tenants. Interested emerging companies can contact EDA Program Manager Lenzie Harcum at firstname.lastname@example.org or (732) 839-1880.