Tech Transfer eNews Blog

UConn start-up gets help from local accelerator to advance new rheumatoid arthritis therapy

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: February 6th, 2019

A University of Connecticut (UConn) start-up is advancing a promising new supplemental therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, with help from a local accelerator.

DeMay Bio is the second entrepreneurial venture by UConn associate professor Caroline Dealy. Her company is one of 11 to be selected for the Accelerator for Biosciences in Connecticut (ABCT), a competitive six-month program that supports research students and faculty in launching their own start-ups.

“ABCT is helping us build our team out and connecting us with all kinds of experts who can help us map our path forward,” says Dealy.

DeMay Bio’s treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects roughly 3 million people in the U.S. alone, is currently in the testing and validation stages. According to ABCT program manager Mary Howard, the accelerator helps researchers like Dealy complement their promising innovations with a strong market strategy.

“We spend a lot of time helping with business modeling,” says Howard. “We help educate [researchers] about issues like intellectual property, finance and accounting and fundraising, and how all of that impacts their business growth.”

Dealy’s first venture could have used that kind of support, but now having failed once to bring a product to commercialization, she’s more ready than ever.

“Now, I think about how a research project might have value for a patient, or solve a medical problem because now I know there’s a path to commercialization that wasn’t clear to me,” she says. Her first venture also taught her the trials and tribulations of the commercialization process, which is a multi-year endeavor with lots of risk and rounds of clinical trials that can cost millions. Lack of funding was the death blow to that initial start-up, which was developing a patented osteoarthritis treatment.

“I now have a better understanding [as a start-up entrepreneur] of the types of experiments or the need for specific data that an investor or the Food and Drug Administration may want to see,” Dealy said. “That might mean I design a different type of experiment than if [academically] I just wanted to know how a [particular] molecule works.”


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