Researchers with JangoBio, a Madison-based startup developing stem cell therapies, are set to begin testing on companion animals such as dogs within the next two months.
Bill Kohl, chief operating officer for JangoBio, says this marks a step forward in the company’s journey to bring its anti-aging therapy to market, starting with non-agricultural animals.
“Things look promising,” Kohl (pictured here) told WisBusiness.com. “We’re working on refining the application, increasing and improving efficacy, and of course monitoring for safety.”
JangoBio’s patent-pending therapy relies on stem cells to regrow certain tissues in the body that are responsible for maintaining healthy hormone levels. As people and animals age, these tissues degrade, leading to unbalanced hormones and a host of associated health problems.
CEO Craig Atwood says regrowing those tissues would have tremendous health benefits for both humans and animals.
JangoBio researchers have previously achieved positive results in smaller animal models such as rats. Upcoming testing on larger animals will provide more valuable information.
If all goes well with the planned commercial rollout for companion animals in 2020, company founders hope to introduce a therapeutic for humans within the next five years.
“That’s highly subject to FDA regulations,” Kohl said. “We could do offshore sooner, but we want to make sure we comply with the FDA.”
For now, Kohl says the company plans to pursue licensing agreements with veterinary clinics that cater to dogs, cats and even horses. But he says “we don’t want to cross the USDA boundary just yet,” since that brings a whole new set of restrictions.
Beef cows and other animals involved with food production represent even more regulatory hurdles, as different rules come into play when animal products are consumed. Still, Kohl sees agricultural animals as an eventual target, as the therapy could greatly increase the productivity of animals like sheep and stud bulls.
In the second half of 2018, Kohl says JangoBio more than doubled the size of its animal research space with a new headquarters and facility for cell culturing in Fitchburg.
The company has raised over $1 million in private funding as part of an ongoing $2 million seed funding round.
“The first million came in pretty quick,” Kohl said. He expects raising the next $1 million will take up to nine months.
Early work at the company was supported by a $365,000 Phase 1 grant from the National Institutes of Health. Kohl says JangoBio is in the process of developing a Phase 2 application as well.
Kohl says this second phase is “highly oriented toward commercialization,” which is why the application is focused on the companion animal model.
A patent for JangoBio’s therapy was first submitted in 2014, but Kohl says many modifications have been made since then in hopes of getting federal approval. The initial application was for a very broad usage of the therapy, “so now we’re in the process of narrowing that down.”
“We will hopefully begin human trials within several years, and use animal data as part of our preclinical work,” Kohl said, adding that animal and human treatment routes represent “parallel paths.” He expects revenues from companion animal therapies will help support efforts to break through into the human health market.
See a previous story on JangoBio: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=391353
Listen to a podcast with Atwood, who developed the idea for this therapy after decades of research into aging and Alzheimer’s disease: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=388890
–By Alex Moe