UNC, Synereca complete first Carolina Express License

Friday, April 09, 2010
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Synereca Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have completed the first Carolina Express License. The Carolina Express License is a new standard license agreement created by the University last December to foster more new spin-out companies that result from academic research conducted on campus.

“We expect that Synereca is the first of many spin-out companies from Carolina research that will use the Carolina Express License,” said Cathy Innes, director of the University’s Office of Technology Development. “The agreement minimized the time and expense required for a start-up to negotiate with the University, with time and expense being two scarce commodities in the start-up world.”

Innes said interested spin-out companies were prequalified having to satisfy funding, business strategy and management experience thresholds.

“The response has been exceptionally positive across the academic technology-transfer community, as well as from our own faculty,” she said.

Under the Carolina Express License, Synereca will license inventions resulting from research conducted by Associate Professor Scott F. Singleton from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Singleton’s research addresses the growing problem of bacterial resistance to current antibiotics. Synereca aims to develop orally active drugs that sustain the efficacy of existing antibiotics by inhibiting the bacterial enzyme RecA. RecA is a key factor in bacterial DNA repair and in the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance.

About 2 million people contract bacterial infections in U.S. hospitals each year, and 90,000 die as a result. About 70 percent of those infections are resistant to at least one of the major classes of antibiotics previously effective against the pathogen. Despite these statistics, the development of new antibiotics has slowed to a crawl: only two antibiotic classes with novel mechanisms of action have been developed in the last 40 years.

“The translation of academic research to commercial products is central to the mission of modern research universities, nowhere more so than in the area of life sciences and therapeutics,” said Tony Waldrop, Ph.D., the University’s vice chancellor for research and economic development.

“The successful development of new medicines to combat bacterial resistance to antibiotics clearly provides for the public good. We see the concern every day in our hospitals. Professor Singleton brings an innovative approach to the problem that offers the potential to save both lives and millions of dollars. UNC is very pleased to have Professor Singleton’s bacterial resistance research the subject matter of the first Carolina Express License.

“In addition to research and education, it has become increasingly important for the University to provide economic development and a return on their investment to the taxpayers of North Carolina. To support and grow the knowledge based industries needed to employee the population of our state in an increasingly competitive global economy, our Universities must continue to support creation of these new enterprises.”

Said Singleton, “The Carolina Express License is just one example of the ways the University empowers entrepreneurship from the faculty. This agreement represents a wonderful culmination of the developmental collaboration between faculty inventors at the University and the Research Triangle community’s strength and expertise in the pharmaceutical industry.”

W. Bennett Love, vice president for business operations at Synereca, said the Carolina Express License reflected a well-thought out new approach by the University.

“The qualification standards needed from a spin-out company to satisfy the licensee requirements, combined with diligence commitments on the company’s part insure that the University’s interests are well protected,” he said. “Yet the milestone parameters do not place an undue economic burden on the spin-out company early in its development, the time when spin-outs can least afford the cash drain. Additionally, having a set of standard terms in the agreement will materially shorten the time from company concept to realization.”

About UNC OTD
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Office of Technology Development (http://www.research.unc.edu/otd) facilitates commercial development of novel ideas by protecting intellectual property rights in discoveries arising from University research and licensing those rights to the emerging or existing companies best equipped to create new products from the technology. The University holds nearly 500 U.S. patents and more than 40 companies have formed around UNC-Chapel Hill innovations in the past 15 years.

About Synereca
Synereca Pharmaceuticals ( www.synereca.com ) was created to address the growing problem of bacterial resistance to current antibiotics by developing orally active drugs that restore or increase the effectiveness of existing antibiotics. The company’s initial focus is to inhibit RecA, a key enzyme in bacterial DNA repair. Synereca’s prototype RecA inhibitors potentiate the killing of a variety of bacteria by a range of antibiotics, including a fluoroquinolone and a penicillin, representatives of antibiotic classes whose combined annual sales exceed $10 billion.

UNC contact: Cathy Innes, (919) 966-3929

Synereca Contact: Bennett Love, ( 919 ) 619-8263

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