On November 22, 2019 the co-Founders and employees of Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals celebrated the company’s 5th anniversary at a Springfield Thunderbirds hockey game.
Clockwise from upper left: Co-founders Alan Schneyer and Elissa Brown embrace the Thunderbird mascot; Nolan, Alexa and Andre; past and present employees including Danielle; Lara and kids and Melissa; Alden and family.
Here’s to a repeat in 5 years with a larger crowd!
CEO Alan Schneyer said, “We are looking forward to this fantastic opportunity to convey the value of the novel diabetes therapy being developed by Fairbanks. Please join us for the pitch and meet us at RESI!”
Fairbanks welcomes its newest employee Alden Richter to our growing company. Alden is currently a Massachusetts Life Science Center intern and just finished his Master’s Degree Program in Applied Molecular Biology at University of Massachusetts – Amherst. His project for the Master’s program was focused on cloning and expressing canine FSTL3 and he is continuing that work as an intern at Fairbanks. He is also using his biotechnology skills to express recombinant versions of our top candidate antibody therapies.
Alden completed his undergraduate degree in Microbiology at
University of Massachusetts – Amherst in May 2018. Prior to entering college, Alden served in
the US Army as a combat engineer including a tour in Afghanistan.
The addition of Alden will allow us to expand our research
and development of diabetes therapies to include companion animal diabetes
treatments. Cloning dog and cat FSTL3
and expressing protein is the first step in the process and we are excited to
have Alden’s expertise which will accelerate progress on this project.
CEO Alan Schneyer and COO Elissa Brown were busy today working the Innovation Zone at BIO 2019 in Philadelphia, meeting with potential partners and working to raise investment for future development of their technologies.
Fairbanks was able to display in the Innovation Zone because the company was awarded an SBIR grant in 2018. As BIO describes it, the Zone enables “Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funded early-stage biotech companies to showcase their cutting-edge technologies, form long-term partnerships, and begin to raise funds in the private sector.”
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) and the BI Venture Fund have awarded Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals the prestigious 2018 Boston Innovation Prize “Golden Ticket.” The prize recognizes the challenge and dedication it takes to successfully build a new company by supporting the innovation process and celebrating life-science entrepreneurs. The award, worth up to $75,000, includes one year of rent at the LabCentral facility in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Clive Wood, Senior Vice President of Discovery Research at BI, presented the award to Dr. Alan Schneyer, Fairbanks’ CEO.
LabCentral is a first-of-its kind shared laboratory space designed as a launchpad for high-potential life sciences and biotech startups. As a testament to its success, in recent years, LabCentral residents and alumni have raised over two billion dollars, with over $750 million dollars in financing in 2017 alone.
Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals was chosen from a field of ten early-stage bioscience organizations that presented their pitches to a panel of judges. “We are honored to have been selected by BI as the best young biotech company and we greatly appreciate the validation of our idea and approach by such a distinguished pharmaceutical company” said Dr. Schneyer. Dr. Schneyer said that he and his team are excited for the opportunity to locate in Lab Central in Cambridge, the center of biotech entrepreneurism. Fairbanks is also looking forward for the opportunity to work more closely with BI scientists to facilitate development of our lead candidates.
With a Phase II SBIR award in hand, Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals CEO Alan Schneyer and team are moving quickly to execute the project plan and achieve the goals of the grant. At a kickoff meeting at the Baystate Research Facility in Springfield, MA, Fairbanks team members worked on planning activities and enjoyed a celebratory lunch that was joined by their scientific and technical colleagues working in the BRF.
The SBIR grant, entitled “Development Of Novel Diabetes Therapies Based On Neutralizing FSTL3 Activity”, provides a total of $1.8M in funding for two years of research. The immediate focus of this research is to test the lead compound in animal models of diabetes for safety and effectiveness. The remaining goals are to identify the mechanism(s) involved in its beneficial effects and engineering the compound to be a more effective therapeutic in humans.
Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $1.83M from the National Institutes of Health.The Phase II SBIR is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization.
Fairbanks was awarded the SBIR grant for its proposal “Development Of Novel Diabetes Therapies Based On Neutralizing FSTL3 Activity” following up from the demonstration of feasibility duringits Phase I SBIR grant awarded in 2016. The Phase II award started in June 2018 and will run for two years.During this time Fairbanks will test its lead antibody in vitro and in two mouse models of diabetes for efficacy in treating diabetes.Another arm of the study will analyze whether this antibody treatment induces regeneration of beta cells through transdifferentiation from alpha cells.
It is anticipated that Fairbanks will be in a position to begin human testing around 2020.With preliminary results obtained as a result of pursuing SBIR funding, Fairbanks is currently in discussion with potential partners to help develop this therapy for human use.
On Sunday, June 24th, Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals CEO Dr. Alan Schneyer presented a poster at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Orlando entitled “FSTL3 Inhibition Restores Glucose Responsive Insulin Secretion In Non-Functional Human Islets”.
Theposter describes identification of FSTL3 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, verification of their specificity and ability to inhibit FSTL3 binding to activin A and B as well as GDF11, and the ability of these antibodies to disrupt pre-formed FSTL3-activin complexes that otherwise are stable.
Also shown was experiments in which human islets that lost their ability to secrete insulin in response to glucose (the most critical contribution of the beta cells) were restored to glucose responsiveness after exposure to Fairbanks’ antibodies.These results support further development of this FSTL3 neutralizing approach as a novel therapy for diabetes.
Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals was selected as a semi-finalist for this year’s Diabetes Challenge competition. The poster pictured above was submitted for display at the May 21st event that will include a pitch competition among the finalists.
The poster first emphasizes that diabetes is caused by inadequate production of the hormone insulin and, critically, that insulin comes only from cells called beta cells. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells are destroyed by a patient’s immune system leaving them without insulin for the rest of their lives. In type 2 diabetes, which affects 95% of diabetic patients, beta cells gradually lose insulin production for a variety of reasons and eventually fail to secrete enough insulin to control blood glucose, leading to a host of associated maladies. Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals is developing a new type of therapy that will restore function to these beta cells and over time, induce regeneration of new beta cells in order to restore natural insulin production.
The next panel shows the scientific evidence that led to this therapeutic strategy. A protein called FSTL3 regulates growth factors in the TGF-beta family known as activin, GDF11, and myostatin. By eliminating FSTL3 in mice we found that their islets were doubled in size and they contained many more beta cells. This allowed them to more easily control blood glucose and were more sensitive to insulin that was produced by these beta cells (red lines on graphs on right side). This suggested that a therapy which could completely block FSTL3 might induce more beta cells and better insulin production, the basis for Fairbanks’ therapy.
On the right side of the poster is our research and development team as well as our scientific advisory board that includes basic scientists who are experts in FSTL3 and the TGF-beta family, diabetes clinicians who are also researchers, and diabetes clinicians who have successfully developed drugs for diabetes.
Below that is a panel showing that Fairbanks has produced at least 1 antibody that can neutralize FSTL3 (FP-101). In one test of its activity, this antibody was used to treat human islets (containing beta cells) that behaved like defective diabetic islets. After 24 hours of treatment, the defective islets regained their ability to secrete insulin in response to elevated glucose, suggesting that the antibody could restore diabetic islet function as proposed. This also indicates that the FSTL3-activin system is functional in human islets.
Finally, the last panel indicates that Fairbanks has applied for a patent and funded its work so far with personal funds, a Phase 1 SBIR grant (completed April 2017) and is awaiting the imminent start of our Phase II grant.