Biotech Company Founded By Dr. Justin Ichida Receives Fast-Track Grant

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) have awarded a 3.7 million dollar Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Fast-Track grant to a biotech company founded by NYSCF – Robertson Investigator Justin Ichida, PhD, an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California. This grant will go toward the development of a small molecule therapeutic for patients with the genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

The company, AcuraStem, is dedicated to finding personalized treatments for ALS and FTD. AcuraStem uses a unique tool called iNeuroRx that leverages patient stem cells and advanced machine learning technology to discover drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. This technology also allows AcuraStem to work with patients and clinicians to identify the best possible existing drug for each patient’s symptoms.

NINDS created the SBIR Fast-Track grant to support promising early-stage scientific discoveries. It can be difficult to take a small molecule therapy from the lab to the clinic, often because drugs do not end up working as well in humans as they do in animals. AcuraStem’s technology helps ensure that drugs are tested on human cells and evaluated for toxicity early on in their preclinical stages. Small molecule therapeutics are also an advantageous treatment option since they are easy to administer to patients, less expensive than alternatives, and can easily access the brain.

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