Startup RaeSedo Inc. awarded $3.4M STTR Grant to Develop New Asthma Therapies

Nov. 21, 2022
A clipboard with "asthma" and a stethoscope.

TUCSON, Ariz. – University of Arizona startup, RaeSedo, has been awarded $3.4 million to advance new asthma therapies originally developed at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and the BIO5 InstituteRaeSedo, Inc., co-founded by Dr. Julie Ledford, associate professor of cellular and molecular medicine, was awarded a Phase 2 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant. This new grant will allow the company to continue to develop potential therapeutics and to partner with the university.

“Existing asthma treatments still don't eliminate all exacerbations,” Dr. Ledford, who is also the company’s chief scientific officer, explains. “There is critical need to develop new therapies treating asthma and other inflammatory lung diseases, and that’s exactly our goal."

“Current treatments for asthma are effective, but not foolproof, and complications from asthma continue to cause significant health problems for patients," according to Dr. Monica Kraft, chief medical officer for the company. “The costs to treat those suffering with severe asthma account for $21 billion per year in US annual health care expenditures alone.”

The project, titled "Development of SP-A Derived Peptidomimetics for the Treatment of Asthma," represents a total award of $3.4 million over two years. Scott Boitano, professor of physiology and a member of the BIO5 Institute; Josef Vagner, research professor and director of the Ligand Discovery Laboratory at the institute; and Kraft, who is also a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, are the co-principle investigators on the project. 

The team originally worked with Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the UArizona that commercializes inventions stemming from research, to protect the intellectual property for the invention, develop the strategy to spin out the company, and license the technology to RaeSedo. The company’s mission is to develop and commercialize novel therapies for asthma.

Now in its second year, RaeSedo Inc. moves into its next phase having met all milestones from its Phase 1 SBIR grant, including the development of small peptides derived from a protein in the lungs (Surfactant Protein-A, or SP-A) that have key anti-inflammatory properties important for healthy functioning. From this foundation, researchers plan to use this new award to evaluate the compound in animal models. If successful, RaeSedo Inc. will be positioned to bring forward into human clinical trials a new class of asthma therapeutics.

RaeSedo Inc. was founded by a team of women physician-scientists to research and develop new and improved therapies to combat lung diseases, including asthma. In the course of their work, researchers discovered molecules that mimic a special protein, Surfactant Protein-A (SP-A), found in the fluid lining of lungs that protects against inhaled pathogens. As many asthma patients have reduced levels of SP-A, RaeSedo Inc. believes that focus on SP-A derived peptidomimetics can be used to develop new, innovative therapies to reduce the inflammatory environment of the asthma lung and improve patient outcomes.

Paul Tumarkin, Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications