A Natural Treatment for Severe Infections
One of the greatest risks to human health is the continuous genetic mutations in bacteria and viruses resulting in drug resistant pathogens. Platanosides are a new class of antimicrobial agents highly-active against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and key target proteins associated with SARS-Cov2 replication. Platanosides are natural compounds isolated from the leaves of the common sycamore tree for the treatment of severe infections, without the toxicity or side effects of current treatments. The innovation was developed through the research of Dr. Mark Hamann, an internationally recognized natural products chemist who is the Charles and Carol Cooper/SmartState Endowed Chair of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy. The antibiotics market is $50 billion annually and growing.
Described below is how an Innovation Collaboration Agreement (ICA) can be crafted around this opportunity using the Great Jobs Through Innovation Excellence Act (Great Jobs) Innovation Ecosystem Framework (click for a more detailed graphic).
Over 25 years, Dr. Hamann’s academic research program has raised over $20 million in funding from the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and industry support for the discovery and development of therapeutics for the control of cancer and drug-resistant infectious diseases. Dr. Hamann founded Oxford Labs, Inc., which owns the platanosides intellectual property rights in addition to Aleutianamine for the control of pancreatic cancer. Oxford Labs is in the process of licensing Manzamine for the control of prostate cancer from USC. Oxford Labs has no outside investors and has operated from NIH funding and Dr. Hamann’s personal investments since 2014.
Market Pull Innovation
Great Jobs would fund additional research of Dr. Hamann's to prepare for the commercialization of his innovation. The trigger for this funding is a match from an industry partner, which can take the form of an investment in Dr. Hamann's research, or an investment in an innovation center or entrepreneurial company that would employ Dr. Hamm's students when they graduate.
Oxford Labs has engaged an investment banking firm to raise a multi-million round of capital to complete toxicology studies, to obtain regulatory approval, and ultimately to operate and scale-up processing capacity. MUSC and Oxford Labs would enter into an ICA, which would be the vehicle for the Great Jobs funding of Dr. Hamann's research. A venture capital investment in Oxford Labs would qualify for the Great Jobs industry match. SC Launch may be able to assist with the process of raising capital.
Dr. Hamann also founded Sycamore BioPharma with South Carolina Business leaders. Sycamore is a leader in state-of-the-art supercritical fluid extraction and purification of active pharmaceutical ingredients based in Columbia, SC.
Commercialization and Workforce Development
A significant risk any time there is a large investment by an out-of-state firm in a SC entrepreneurial company is the investor requires the company to leave SC to obtain subsequent rounds of capital. This can be addressed in the ICA with the investor agreeing that a condition of the meaningful state investment in Dr. Hamann's research is that Oxford Labs will remain headquartered in SC.
What often drives investors to pull companies out of SC is the lack of talent to grow the company here. Workforce development is a key part of any ICA.
The first level is ensuring that jobs are created in SC for students graduating from Dr. Hamann's research program. Having spent years in school, they are among the best people to lead commercializing the innovation in Oxford Labs or another partner company.
The second level is the ICA including Trident Technical College as the lead technical college to ensure there are trained workers to operate and scale-up processing capacity. The Charleston Regional Development Alliance might also be a party to the ICA to ensure Oxford Labs has all the appropriate economic development incentives to grow their operation in SC.
SCBIO, the state's life science organization, can be a party to the ICA to help Oxford Labs connect with others in the life sciences innovation ecosystem in the state. An example is Nephron Pharmaceuticals, who might be able to provide processing capacity without Oxford Labs having to make significant capital investments to do that. The more entrenched in SC's innovation ecosystem Oxford Labs becomes, the less likely a large out-of-state investor will seek to move their headquarters out of the state.
Well crafted, a Great Jobs investment through an RCA can be the foundation for a high-impact entrepreneurial company in the state that becomes a global leader in its market segment creating high-wage jobs and wealth in South Carolina.