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Kosan Wins $100K SBIR Grant from NIH

NEW YORK, Sept. 6 – Kosan Biosciences has received a $100,000 Phase I small business innovative research grant from the National Institutes of Health to construct a library of novel ligands to be screened against G protein-coupled receptors.

The Hayward, California-based company will use the money to create a library of polyketide ligands, which are known to stimulate or inhibit GPCRs, an important class of drug targets. The library will then be screened against GPCRs in-house and distributed to outside companies that have proprietary GPCRs they may wish to collaborate with Kosan to develop novel drugs.

The award was issued by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. 

Kosan COO Michael Ostrach said the award represents only a small portion of the total cost of assembling the library. The remaining funds will come from public and private investors, along with previous grants, he said. 

GPCRs are one of the most important families of drug targets for the pharmaceutical industry, researchers believe. They are associated with major therapeutic categories such as asthma, obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. GPCRs targeted by currently marketed drugs are associated with more than $20 billion in annual sales.

Kosan Biosciences is a public company that uses proprietary technologies to manipulate the polyketide-making process, generating novel products that could serve as drug candidates. According to the company, natural or semi-synthetic polyketide pharmaceuticals represent more than 40 products, generating sales of approximately $15 billion per year.

Ostrach said the library, which will likely take around six months to produce, will represent a catalogue of “unnatural natural products” that have their basis in the natural processes of organisms but were ultimately created from calculated manipulation.

“What we’re doing is taking the best of nature,” he said.

The company currently focuses on polyketides that target infectious disease, cancer, gastrointestinal motility disorders, mucus hypersecretion, immunosuppression, and nerve regeneration.

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