CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cydan Development, Inc., an orphan drug accelerator dedicated to creating therapies that impact the lives of people living with rare genetic diseases, today announced that it has selected five start-up organizations and companies to receive $5,000 scholarships to support innovations that impact the lives of people with rare conditions. Courageous Parents Network, Dover Life Sciences, EyeControl, Hyasynth Bio and Versantis will receive the 2016 Cydan Scholarships in partnership with MassChallenge.
“These trailblazers are using science and technology to develop products, devices and services to target rare diseases and to assist patients,” said Chris Adams, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Cydan. “We are excited to support these innovative start-ups and follow their progress during the 2016 MassChallenge and beyond.”
In addition to the financial commitment, Cydan, as a MassChallenge sponsor will provide hands-on mentorship and resources to the companies. The 2016 Scholarship winners are:
- Courageous Parents Network, a non-profit founded by parents of children diagnosed with rare and life-threatening diseases. Courageous Parents Network (CPN) is a Web/Mobile intervention to a problem largely ignored. It looks beyond medical research to address the emotional and psychological issues parents caring for children with serious illness face but most disease groups avoid. CPN provides coping resources, parent-to-parent media, and support online, for free, so parents can access them 24/7 and at their own pace, including middle of the night.
- Dover Life Sciences LLC has developed a set of small molecule inhibitors of glycogen synthase which could lead to weight control in patients with Prader Willi Syndrome (PWS) and also as substrate reduction therapy for abnormal glycogen storage found in Glycogen Storage Disease Type 3 (GSD3).
- EyeControl is an inexpensive, intuitive mobile and screen-free communication device that allows “locked-in” patients to communicate at anytime, anywhere. Patients with ALS and other diseases are locked in their own bodies. Although they may have significant cognitive capabilities, they cannot speak or use their limbs. This technology allows communication using eye movement exclusively.
- Hyasynth Bio is changing the supply chain for cannabinoids from the expensive and crude plant source to an efficient and pure source based on genetically engineered yeast that would enable pharmaceutical development and distribution worldwide. Additionally, Hyasynth will harness its technology platform to develop novel cannabinoids to target therapeutics.
- Versantis AG is developing a liposomal-based platform that serves the development of drugs for inherited metabolic disorders. VS-01 focuses on citrullinemia, a genetic disorder of high unmet medical need affecting newborns. A pharmaceutically acceptable formulation and robust preclinical data have reinforced its translational potential and the promise to improve the clinical outcome of these patients experiencing hyperammonemia. Ammonia is highly neurotoxic and is also the cause of other urea cycle disorders and acidemias, which Versantis will target next.
MassChallenge Boston sponsors, such as Cydan, awarded scholarships to eligible companies participating in the 2016 Accelerator Program. Other scholarship sponsors include Microsoft, Zipcar, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, EYP, and The John W. Henry Family Foundation.
About Cydan Development, Inc.
Cydan is an orphan drug accelerator dedicated to creating therapies that impact the lives of people living with rare genetic diseases. Cydan evaluates products for treating such diseases with high unmet medical need with the goal to start companies to develop promising therapies. Cydan’s first new company, Vtesse, was launched in January 2015 and is developing drugs for NiemannPick Disease Type C (NPC) and other rare, severe diseases with great unmet need. Cydan’s second new company, Imara, was launched in April 2016. Imara is developing novel therapeutics for patients with sickle cell disease. Cydan was founded in 2013 by a management team with extensive drug discovery, clinical development and business development experience and financed by leading life sciences investors NEA, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lundbeckfond Ventures, Bay City Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments. The accelerator is based in Tech Square in Cambridge, Mass.