Fairbanks was selected to present at UMass’ Technology Transfer Center’s Early-Stage Life Sciences Technology Conference on April 5, 2017. The presentation will focus on our technology, IP, potential markets, sustainable competitive advantage, developmental stage, and future plans. Stay tuned for a release of our latest slide deck.
Alan Schneyer and Elissa Brown gave Fairbanks’ introductory pitch today to MassBio’s 2017 Cycle 1 MassConnect mentors. Fairbanks was one of four biotech startups selected by MassBio to join the only entrepreneur mentorship program in Massachusetts that dives deep into the life sciences. MassCONNECT matches entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life sciences professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation.
The MassCONNECT process involves a two-month mentorship where industry experts guide entrepreneurs as they seek to develop business plans, launch companies, and raise capital.
MassCONNECT mentors evaluate and provide feedback on commercial feasibility; identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and team up to furnish industry-specific business advice for innovative ideas in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices and health IT. Entrepreneurs gain invaluable advice and coaching on defining value proposition, developing pitches and building professional networks.
Click here for more information on today’s kick-off.
(December 2016) Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (BI) selected Fairbanks from 30 applicants to compete for their Boston Innovation Prize. BI runs this competition to help sustain innovative pipelines for new breakthrough therapies by providing a Golden Ticket for Lab Central space (valued at $75,000) in Cambridge, MA. The panel of judges includes senior and founding members of Lab Central and BI’s venture capital fund, as well as other seed stage investor groups.
Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals was awarded a pilot grant from the UMass Office of the President’s Science and Technology Fund to screen small molecules with the goal of identifying compounds that will promote the transdifferentiation of pancreatic alpha cells into insulin secreting beta cells.
This highly competitive funding program was created by UMass to stimulate the development of high impact therapeutic candidates. Proposals were selected based on assay feasibility, medical relevance, and commercialization potential.
The Challenge is a proposal- and presentation-based competition for small companies in the T1 and T2 space that are making real progress towards better outcomes for those diagnosed. It offers the chance to win in-kind awards and receive early and later-stage validation of their ideas and products specific to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals received a second award from the Massachusetts Life Science Center to hire a new technician intern starting in July 2016. Alyssa Berthelette, a 2016 graduate from Assumption College with a degree in Biology, was selected to replace Eddie Mesiti who departed July 31 to continue his education.Welcome Aboard Alyssa!
Dr. Alan Schneyer, CEO/CSO and Co-founder of Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals, is the Principal Investigator (PI) of an SBIR grant from The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award begins immediately and funds our research that will identify a number of candidate compounds using our proprietary screening bioassay, comparing them for biochemical and biological properties, and testing the top candidates for biological activity in islet culture assays.
The award lasts for a one year period. It is anticipated that the successful completion of this Phase 1 award will lead to a larger Phase 2 award, which will allow testing the biological activity of lead compounds in animals. The goal of Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals, and this SBIR grant, is to develop compounds that lead to regeneration of insulin-producing beta cells to replace those lost to either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and thereby partially or completely eliminate diabetes in these patients. Stay tuned for progress reports….
Fairbanks scientists collaborated with UMass-Amherst faculty to determine whether the increase in insulin-producing beta cells observed numerous times in FSTL3 knockout mice results, at least in part, from enhancing alpha to beta cell transdifferentiation. A process called “lineage tracing” in which alpha cells are permanently marked with a yellow tag was used to monitor their fate over time. Alpha cells typically produce glucagon, a hormone that counteracts insulin and helps prevent glucose from falling too much. Yellow cells that now produce insulin (a hallmark of beta cells) were identified in wild type mice and the number of these cells was increased significantly in mice in which the FSTL3 gene was inactivated (FSTL3 Knockout mice) that have elevated activin signaling.
These results support our hypothesis that activin and related growth factors enhance alpha to beta cell transdifferentiation resulting in increased numbers of functional beta cells.
These results were published in the journal Endocrinology in March 2016 (Endocrinology 157: 1043–1054, 2016). View in Pubmed
The transcription factor Arx is required to form pancreatic islet alpha cells while the factor Pax4 is required to specify beta cells. Reducing Arx expression in alpha cells is sufficient to turn them into beta cells.Fairbanks scientists have collaborated on new research published in Endocrinology showing that activin directly suppressed Arx and increased Pax4 expression, consistent with our hypothesis that increased activin signaling promotes alpha to beta cell transdifferentiation.
Since FSTL3 knockout mice have increased activin signaling, these new results suggest that the enhanced beta cell formation in FSTL3 knockout mice could be due to activin-assisted transdifferentiation from alpha cells. More research is needed to determine if this process occurs naturally and amenable to intervention as a basis for developing novel diabetes treatments.