A Combination of NIH Grants and Series A Private Investment Brings a Total of $10 Million to Advance the Development of a Non-Addictive Drug to Fight the Nationwide Opioid Epidemic
AUSTIN, TX – Nov. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — 4E Therapeutics, Inc., a neuroscience company based in Austin, Texas developing a first-in-class treatment for neuropathic pain, announced that it has been awarded a $5.5 million Phase 2 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) UG3 grant as part of the NIH Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative.
In the U.S., over 11 million people have misused opioids and, on average, 100 people die each day from opioid-related overdoses. This widespread addiction, known as the opioid epidemic, led the Department of Health and Human Services to declare a public health emergency in 2017.
4E Therapeutics is taking the lead in fighting the opioid crisis head on,” said Craig Benson, CEO of 4E Therapeutics, “4E Therapeutics is focused on developing a first-in-class treatment for neuropathic pain, which will provide an alternative to addictive opioids for those suffering from debilitating pain. Neuropathic pain affects approximately 10% of the United States’ population and is a leading cause of disability.”
Dr. Ted Price, PhD, is a Co-Founder of 4E Therapeutics and Ashbel Smith Professor at the Center for Advanced Pain Studies in the Department of Neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas. According to Price, whose work focuses on the mechanisms that drive chronic pain, “Existing treatments for neuropathic pain are not sufficiently efficacious and often have intolerable side effects. In 2013 alone, 250 million prescriptions for opioids were written, enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills. 4E Therapeutics is leading the way to develop neuropathic pain therapies that will improve the quality of life for Americans who suffer from the devastating consequences of neuropathic pain.”
4E Therapeutics received a Phase 1 NIH HEAL Grant award of $1.7 million in 2019 and, with continued support from their recent UH3 award, the company is well-positioned to bring to market a non-opioid therapeutic for neuropathic pain that targets a pain signaling pathway distinct from all FDA approved drugs. 4E Therapeutics has advanced their lead compound, 4ET1103, into IND (investigational new drug)-enabling studies and plans to start clinical studies within 3 years. In addition to the NIH Funding, 4E Therapeutics has also raised series A private financing of nearly $2 million dollars. This brings the total amount of capital raised for the groundbreaking project to almost $10 million dollars.
4E Therapeutics is led by CEO Craig Benson. Craig is the former President and CEO of Rules-Based Medicine, Inc., and founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Beyond Batten Disease Foundation (BBDF), developer of BBDF-101. Joe Price is a co-founder and the President and Chairman of 4E Therapeutics. Joe has co-founded and led other companies in the technology space and is an attorney with a background in intellectual property. The Principal Investigator for the SBIR grant awarded to 4E Therapeutics is Dr. James Sahn, PhD, Vice President of Drug Development. Before joining 4E, Sahn was a Research Scientist at The University of Texas at Austin, where he helped develop novel neuroprotective compounds. Sahn and Price are long-term collaborators with a history of work on drug development for neuropathic pain.
4E Therapeutics is a neuroscience company founded in Austin, Texas in 2019.
The company is dedicated to developing innovative and novel treatments for multiple pain indications. The scientific foundation of the company is centered on the idea that neuropathic pain can be effectively and safely treated by targeting the activity of a protein called eIF4E, which plays a key role in regulating the activity of pain-sensing neurons in the peripheral nervous system called nociceptors. These neurons play a crucial role in neuropathic pain. Work on this SBIR award has led to the discovery of 4ET1103, which selectively blocks a key kinase that regulates eIF4E activity, leading to robust pain reduction across multiple animal models of pain. In addition to the primary indication of chronic neuropathic pain, the company’s pipeline also includes compounds to treat migraine pain and acute pain.
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