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BIO 2019 Innovation Zone Company Snapshot: Trellis Biosciences

Andrew Segerman
May 16, 2019

The next big medical breakthrough is on the horizon and all it takes is one idea, one vision, or one conversation for a small, emerging biotech to change the way we treat and cure diseases for generations to come. Recognizing the potential and promise of early-stage companies for addressing unmet medical needs, the BIO International Convention will once again host the Innovation Zone on the exhibit floor of the Philadelphia Convention Center, June 4-6.

The Innovation Zone is a partnership between BIO and the National Institutes of Health to feature Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funded early-stage biotech companies. Eighty emerging companies will showcase their cutting-edge technologies, form long-term partnerships, and begin to raise funds in the private sector.

Ahead of Convention, we caught up with Innovation Zone exhibitor, Dr. Larry Kauvar, Senior Vice President of Trellis Bioscience to learn about his company and their exciting future. See our conversation below.

What is your company’s lead product or technology?

TRL1068 is a native human monoclonal antibody that disrupts bacterial biofilms, targeting a bacterial protein that is conserved across all clinically important pathogens. The CDC estimates that ~70% of antibiotic refractory infections are mediated by biofilm formation which shields the bacteria from phagocytosis by the immune system and induces a slow growing phenotype that is highly resistant to antibiotics. By neutralizing this common virulence factor, TRL1068 provides a qualitative improvement in the efficacy of conventional antibiotics, as demonstrated in four different animal models. Initial human clinical trials are projected to start in mid-2020.

How has this SBIR program helped your company grow?

The pharmaceutical industry has been shrinking its investment in new antibiotics since the high cost of development is difficult to recoup. SBIR funding has thus been critical to advancing our pipeline of monoclonal antibodies for three viral diseases in addition to the biofilm disruptor product, providing about half of the funding for each of the programs as well as external peer review validation.

What are the upcoming milestones and long-term priorities for your company?

Over the next 12-18 months, we expect to move each of our four programs into initial human clinical trials. Our goal is to secure partners to bring each of the products to market. Each program provides innovative features over competing efforts. Positive clinical data supporting utility for these innovations will reduce the risk and shorten the timeline to market, making the products more attractive to pharmaceutical companies.

What do you hope to gain out of your participation at the 2019 BIO International Convention?

Early partnering discussions are already underway for each of the four products. We seek to broaden our contacts with the goal of partnering at least one of the programs in 2019.

Tell us something about your company that investors might not know…

The proprietary technology used for discovery of our native human monoclonal antibodies was developed with funding from top tier venture capital firms. This cutting-edge technology for discovery of antibodies, the fastest growing segment of the pharmaceutical industry, incorporates computerized microscopy to provide comprehensive characterization of the properties of individual antibodies from millions of human white blood cells (B-cells). After the first product candidate was outlicensed, the company was recapitalized to pursue additional programs. Beyond our current infectious disease pipeline, we have early research stage products addressing cancer targets.