Ocean Biomedical (NASDAQ: OCEA) Announces $1 Million Falk Award for Malaria Drug Candidate Addressing Evolving Resistance to Artemisinin-Based Therapeutics to Chief Scientist Dr. Jonathan Kurtis
Providence, RI, Oct. 24, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ocean Biomedical, Inc. (NASDAQ: OCEA), today announced that its Chief Scientist, Jonathan Kurtis MD, PhD has received the prestigious Falk Medical Research Trust Transformational Award to advance a new class of anti-malarial drug candidates. Dr. Kurtis’ malaria drug program stems from his groundbreaking malaria vaccine research, targeting a critical stage of the malaria cycle. This program, which includes a therapeutic small molecule drug candidate for treating severe malaria, and a therapeutic antibody for short term malaria prevention, is designed to address the growing resistance to the current best-in-class Artemisinin-based medicines.
“It has become increasingly apparent that a new, more effective class of anti-malarials is needed, especially to combat severe malaria,” said Dr. Jonathan Kurtis, one of Ocean’s Scientific Co-Founders. “We believe that our therapeutic candidates could provide a comprehensive defense against some of the most devastating forms of the disease, and I am grateful to the Falk Medical Research Trust for recognizing this new paradigm for malaria drug development.”
About Ocean Biomedical’s Malaria Program
After decades of vaccine development work, Dr. Kurtis and colleagues have made a series of discoveries that have allowed them to hone in on 3 key targets in the ‘blood stage’ of the malaria cycle, each critical to a different segment of that stage: invasion, intracellular development, and egress from the cell. Kurtis is working to optimize Ocean Biomedical’s vaccine candidate to potentially target all 3 segments of the blood stage simultaneously, an advanced effort that even before the Covid-19 vaccine was using the mRNA delivery platform.
Ocean’s malaria drug program grew out of the vaccine effort, and has already demonstrated that the family of small molecule drugs in development by Dr. Kurtis’ team are highly specific for PfGARP binding, are non-toxic in multiple in vitro and in vivo systems, have excellent pharmacokinetic properties, and rapidly clear parasitemia in animal models.
Global Malaria Challenges
Malaria is the greatest single cause of childhood death on the planet, killing approximately 600,000 individuals a year. Efforts to control and eventually eradicate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa have made progress in the past decade, but are being threatened by the expansion of malarial zones, new strains of mosquitos in urban areas, and growing resistance to current treatments. Artemisinin-based drug therapy remains the mainstay of treatment, but the spread of parasites resistant to this family of compounds underscores the urgent need to identify new anti-malarial drugs.
About Dr. Jonathan Kurtis
Jonathan Kurtis, MD-PhD is a Scientific Co-founder of Ocean Biomedical and currently serves as Chief Scientist for the company. Dr. Kurtis is the Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Brown University, and the Executive Director of Brown’s MD-PhD program. An internationally recognized leader in malaria research and vaccine development, Kurtis has received the Baily K Ashford Medal in Tropical Medicine and is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Kurtis’ discovery research been published in dozens of prominent journals including Nature, and Science.
Ocean Biomedical, Inc. is a Providence, Rhode Island-based biopharma company with an innovative business model that accelerates the development and commercialization of scientifically compelling assets from research universities and medical centers. Ocean Biomedical deploys the funding and expertise to move new therapeutic candidates efficiently from the laboratory to the clinic to the world. Ocean Biomedical is currently developing five promising discoveries that have the potential to achieve life-changing outcomes in lung cancer, brain cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, and the prevention and treatment of malaria. The Ocean Biomedical team is working on solving some of the world’s toughest problems, for the people who need it most.
To learn more, visit www.oceanbiomedical.com.
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