IU startup Anagin receives federal funding to test treatment for traumatic brain injury

  • March 9, 2016


INDIANAPOLIS -- A startup that is commercializing Indiana University technology has received funding from an institute within the National Institutes of Health to test a treatment for traumatic brain injury.

Anagin LLC has received a one-year SBIR Phase I grant worth $267,381 from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The grant will help the company test the benefits of a compound that could reduce the damage caused by traumatic brain injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2010, about 2.5 million deaths, hospitalizations and emergency-room visits in the United States were associated with traumatic brain injury. The severity of traumatic brain injuries ranges from severe to mild; the latter are labeled as concussions.

Eric Messner, CEO of Anagin, said an effective pharmaceutical intervention for traumatic brain injury needs to be developed.

"There is a critical need to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying functional deficits after traumatic brain injury," Messner said. "There is also a need to translate this knowledge into the development of new treatments."

Messner said testing the benefits of the company's inhibitor could validate a new intervention for traumatic brain injury. Further studies could determine if the inhibitor is a drug candidate.

Xiao-Ming Xu, scientific director of the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Group in the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, is a sub-awardee for the grant. Messner said Xu will conduct the most important portions of this research in the new Neuroscience Research Building at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Xu said the yearlong research will investigate two things.

"First, we will determine the optimally efficacious dose of the compound in a preclinical model of traumatic brain injury," Xu said. "We will then investigate whether the inhibitor retains its efficacy when administered in a delayed reaction."

"Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in health populations of all ages," Xu continued. "If successful, this project will identify a new target -- and mechanism of intervention -- for traumatic brain injury."

Anagin was co-founded by Yvonne Lai, senior scientist with IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Bloomington and the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, and Anantha Shekhar, professor of psychiatry, pharmacology and neurobiology at the School of Medicine. The company was also co-founded by Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.'s SpinUp program.

The company previously received a two-year, $692,706 SBIR Phase I grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, another institute within the National Institutes of Health, to test its compounds to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The State of Indiana matched $50,000 on that award. Anagin also received $25,000 for winning the BioCrossroads New Venture Competition.

Lai said she and her colleagues at Anagin are pleased to receive their second SBIR award from an NIH institute.

"Applying for NIH funding is a highly competitive process," she said. "This grant is peer-reviewed by a panel of academic experts in drug development. We are proud to be recognized this way."

Research reported in this press release was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43NS095489. The content is solely the responsbility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About Indiana University Research and Technology Corp.

IURTC is a not-for-profit corporation tasked with the protecting and commercializing technology emanating from innovations by IU researchers. Since 1997, IU research has generated more than 2,700 inventions resulting in more than 3,900 global patent applications being filed by IURTC. These discoveries have generated $133 million in licensing and royalty income, including $111 million in funding for IU departments, labs and inventors.​