Tocol Pharmaceuticals Receives $1M Investment to Develop Radioprotection Product for South American Market

August 2nd, 2017 by Rebecca Norman

Tocol Pharmaceuticals is using cutting-edge technology to develop products inspired by nature to improve human health. The company recently received a $1 million investment from La Universidad Tecnica Particular de Loja (UTPL)  in Ecuador to introduce its radioprotection products into the South American market.

Tocol was co-founded by Dr. Cesar Compadre and Dr. Philip Breen as part of UAMS Bioventures.

As University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences faculty members, they had previously developed technologies that were licensed to, and successfully developed by, the Arkansas company SafeFoods.

“The success that our previous inventions had with SafeFoods motivated us to form Tocol to develop our next set of inventions,” said Compadre, managing member of Tocol.

Dr. Cesar Compadre conducting in-field research in Ecuador

Collaboration with UTPL
The research and educational collaboration between UAMS and UTPL has spanned more than a decade and has involved over 50 students and faculty exchanges. The starting material for one of Tocol’s products was jointly developed by both universities and uses a plant that grows in Ecuador.

“The product to be developed with the help of the UTPL investment will use a combination of compounds derived from Arkansas rice and some South American plants. It will be particularly useful for populations that live in the vast mountain regions close to the equator (who are) routinely exposed to some of the highest levels of ionizing radiation in the world, an over 100-million-person market,” Compadre said.

ASBTDC Assistance
The company is a client of the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center.

“ASBTDC has given us invaluable assistance in multiple occasions, from advanced market research to business plan reviews that helped us secure a $50,000 investment from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. This AEDC Seed Capital investment allowed us conduct research to develop our radiation protection products,” said Compadre.

Unique Nature of Tocol’s Compounds

Tocol’s compounds offer all of the following benefits, which are not currently found in any commercially available product on the market:

  • Highly effective to protect against damage produced by radiation exposure
  • Non-toxic
  • Suitable for oral administration
  • Low production cost

“Rice bran can be used a starting material for the production of some of our products. This would produce additional revenue for Arkansas rice producers,” said Breen. Arkansas has historically been the largest rice producer in the United States.

Market Applications
“Our products are cell and tissue protectors and, depending on the composition and strength, can be used at different levels. One current focus of Tocol is development of safe and effective products that can be used to protect against and mitigate the effects of radiation,” said Compadre.
Potential market applications include:

  • General protection against UV radiation
  • Protection radiation hazards, both accidental and terrorist
  • Protection of radiation health workers
  • Protection of patients receiving radiotherapy

Tocol’s Team
Other partners of Tocol Pharmaceuticals include Drs. Shraddha Thakkar, and Nukhet Akin-Burns. Tocol has a strong suite of intellectual property. The company is well suited to commercialize the radioprotection technology thanks to extensive experience in developing bioactive compounds from natural sources and using molecular modeling in drug design.

Tocol’s knowledge base includes in-vitro and in-vivo testing of radioprotectants and radiomitigators; experimental design and assay validation; regulatory affairs and drug toxicity; intellectual property protection and technology transfer; and global health and international collaborations.

Together, Breen and Compadre have more than 50 years of combined experience in the development of bioactive compounds and over 70 patents.

What’s Next for Tocol?
Tocol continues to develop a safe and effective radioprotector suitable for oral administration. Once the product is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States, it would likely be allowed in other countries such as Japan, South Korea, and the European Union.

“Tocol is working on securing additional funding, from investors and federal Small Business Innovation Research grants, to perform the necessary research needed to obtain required FDA approval for introducing its products to the U.S. market,” said Compadre.