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Tocol Pharmaceuticals Wins State Funding For Radioprotection Research

December 15th, 2015 by Sarah Ricard

Tocol Pharmaceuticals, a spinout company of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has developed a plant-based compound that shows great promise as a safe and effective method for protecting humans against exposure to radiation.

The company recently received board approval for a $50,000 Seed Capital Investment Program award through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology to support ongoing research efforts.

Dr. Cesar Compadre and Dr. Philip Breen are the founders of Tocol Pharmaceuticals. Other company partners include Dr. Nukhet Aykin-Burns and Dr. Shraddha Thakkar.

Tocol Pharmaceuticals has already conducted proof-of-concept research that demonstrates that its compound is effective when given before radiation exposure occurs. “Our next step is to prove that our preparation is effective when given after radiation exposure and to develop a formulation suitable for oral use,” said Breen.

Dr. Cesar Compadre conducting in-field research in Ecuador

Dr. Cesar Compadre conducting in-field research in Ecuador

Compadre and Breen are UAMS faculty.  Compadre, a professor, is director of the university’s molecular modeling facility. Breen is an associate professor in the UAMS College of Pharmacy. Compadre and Breen have been working together for over five years developing the core technologies for Tocol Pharmaceuticals.

These technologies were developed at UAMS, and have a strong suite of intellectual patent protection. Tocol Pharmaceuticals has licensed the technologies from UAMS to pursue commercialization. “Since the product will require FDA approval, we are seeking investments and SBIR funding to finance the approval process. This SCIP award will be used to complete additional research that will strengthen our chances of obtaining SBIR funding,” Compadre said.

Compadre and Breen also envision that their product would be useful to protect against the side effects of radiation in cancer patients receiving radiotherapy.

The pair engaged the ASBTDC’s innovation consultant, Rebecca Norman, for assistance with their SCIP application. “Rebecca Norman was essential in the development of our business plan,” Breen said. “We traded many drafts of this plan with her until it was satisfactory. She was invaluable as a consultant.”

The team knew that the time was right to apply for commercialization funding through the AEDC since they had already conducted research that demonstrated feasibility of its product.

“We are at the stage that state funds are most appropriate, since they do not require an equity position,” said Compadre.

When asked what advice he had for other innovative companies that are interested in applying for AEDC commercialization funding, Breen advised, “In short, spend as much time developing the business plan as in the preparation of the scientific proposal.”

Tocol Pharmaceuticals team, from left to right: Cesar M. Compadre, PhD; Nukhet Aykin-Burns, PhD., Philip J. Breen, PhD., and Shraddha Thakkar, Ph.D

Tocol Pharmaceuticals team, from left to right: Cesar M. Compadre, PhD; Nukhet Aykin-Burns, PhD., Philip J. Breen, PhD., and Shraddha Thakkar, Ph.D