The article, by Fairbanks staff Alexa Lopez, Nolan Meyer, and Alden Richter; scientific advisory board member Thomas Thompson; and consultant (and corresponding author) Dr. Melissa Brown is now online in the journal Endocrinology.
The paper describes Fairbanks’s successful effort to develop an FSTL3 neutralizing antibody, FP-101, and characterize its ability to prevent FSTL3 from complexing with activin or related ligands, or disrupt already formed complexes. In vitro assays revealed that FP-101 mediated neutralization of FSTL3 can enhance both insulin secretion and glucose responsiveness to non-functional mouse and human islets under conditions that model diabetes, thus providing a novel therapeutic strategy for treating diabetes through repairing beta cells.
Our work at Fairbanks carries on without our former CEO and CSO, Dr. Alan Schneyer. After intensive review by the NIH, Elissa Brown was approved as Program Director/Principal Investigator. Ms. Brown is a co-founder of Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals and has served as COO of the firm since its inception. Over the past few months, Ms. Brown has taken over the reins at Fairbanks allowing the research on the effect of FSTL3 neutralizing antibodies on pancreatic islets to continue.
Under the oversight of Dr. Melissa Brown, Ms. Alexa Lopez is directing our in-house mouse studies and Mr. Alden Richter is heading up the molecular biology efforts, including the cloning, expression, and characterization of recombinant proteins used in our experiments.
This new publication revisits an article they published in 2010 that summarized the role of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) family of proteins in diabetes. The new article adds new evidence and findings, and is largely based on data gathered since 2010 in their labs.
We are deeply saddened to announce that Fairbanks CEO Alan Schneyer passed away suddenly on November 18, 2020. Alan was an innovative scientist, a caring mentor, an eager colloborator, and a truly bold entrepreneur.
As Dr. Joe Jerry, Science Director of the Pioneer Valley Life Science Institute, friend and colleague of Alan, wrote “He could see the potential for a completely new strategy to manage diabetes. This was to devise therapeutics to restore the function of the pancreatic beta cells rather than simply provide insulin by daily injections to patients. A grand idea, but he was unwilling to be satisfied with simply an idea and he committed himself to the task of building this new therapy.” (Read Dr Jerry’s tribute.)
Fairbanks was selected this year to participate at the NIH Innovation Conference (NIC) and Life Sciences Summit (LSS). These are exciting opportunities to pitch to mentors, investors and possible interested partners.
At the October 13 NIC, Fairbanks CEO Alan Schneyer presented the company via the video linked below, and industry mentors provided evaluations and feedback. The mentors expressed interest and provided some very positive comments like “The idea of converting alpha cells to beta cells is compelling!”
Next up is the Life Sciences Summit, November 17-18, sponsored by the Center for Biotechnology. At this event, Fairbanks will present as part of the Emerging Company Showcase. Event organizers say “Each company featured in the Emerging Company Showcase was nominated, reviewed and invited to present based upon their innovative science and the quality of their management team.”
This will be a valuable opportunity to connect with potential partners and collaborators, and the company is excited to be part of it.
The studies that would have been presented include a determination of how the therapy works on its target FSTL3 as well as a demonstration that the therapy can restore insulin secretion to diabetic beta cells. Animal studies are underway that hopefully will lead to human trials in the not too distant future.
When Governor Baker instituted the state of emergency in Massachusetts, Fairbanks remained in operation, with reduced staffing and limited contact in the laboratory, with the unfortunate result of decreased rate of progress. However with the recent award of a Payroll Protection Program loan, all Fairbanks employees are back at work, although with a limit of one technician per day to minimize chances of COVID-19 contagion. We are very grateful for the long hours spent by Middlesex Savings Bank to approve, process, and submit our loan application.
Despite our reduced presence during this period, we have continued our work toward a second generation antibody to FSTL3 and initiated a program to develop a monkey version of this antibody, which will fast-track our path to in vivo proof of concept. With this new approach, our diabetes therapy will be a more attractive and de-risked opportunity for investors.
UPDATE 3/11/20: the Endocrine Society has canceled ENDO 2020. Dr Schneyer’s abstract will be published by the Journal of the Endocrine Society; we will publish a link later in the spring when it is available.
If you’re attending this year’s Endocrine Society meeting in San Francisco, be sure to visit with Fairbanks CEO Dr. Alan Schneyer on March 30 at 9:15 AM at the “Entrepreneurship and Industry in Endocrinology” symposium promoting and discussing the entrepreneurial career path for society members. Dr Schneyer will address topics including starting a company to develop a new endocrine-related therapy or technology and funding the company through various stages. The session will be followed by a networking opportunity for additional contact with the speakers.
As highlighted recently in Endocrine News, Dr Schneyer has been promoting entrepreneurism in discussion with trainees at numerous institutions about careers in science. Part of this advocacy has been focused on creating an entrepreneurial track at professional scientific meetings such as the Endocrine Society in which he has been a member for his entire career.
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!”