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William & Mary start-up turns old drug into promising new treatment for hyperglycemic episodes


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 8th, 2019

A start-up from the College of William & Mary is taking an old, seldom-used drug and turning it into a promising new treatment for patients with Type 1 diabetes.

Launched by Tommy Ritz, a business student at William & Mary who himself was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the start-up Auxulin has secured intellectual property rights for the drug Aux-101 from the university’s tech transfer office.

Ritz is designing the drug to treat hyperglycemic episodes, which occur when a person reaches a glucose level of 250 or more milligrams per deciliter of blood. These episodes are of varying severity, and the higher the blood sugar level is, the more likely the body is to become insulin resistant.

According to Ritz, the inspiration to form Auxulin came when he suffered a hyperglycemic episode that saw his blood sugar rise to 500. “The next day my father and I were at a CVS Pharmacy, and I turned to him and I said, you know, there should be something out there to lower your blood sugar besides insulin,” says Ritz.

Ritz and his father, who is also diabetic, found their answer in an off-patent drug that they are now modifying to treat hyperglycemic episodes. Since the old drug is already FDA-approved, human trials on the modified drug could potentially begin immediately. Ritz and his father have begun testing it on themselves.

“At this point, it’s not like it works 10% of the time,” Ritz says. “Every time, it has worked to reduce our blood sugars from a hyperglycemic level to a normal range, sometimes three times faster than just taking insulin alone.”

William & Mary has invested in Auxulin and stands to gain financially from the commercial success of Aux-101. Jason McDevitt of the university’s tech transfer office is helping Ritz find that success.

“We’re hopeful that someone is going to want to partner with us,” says McDevitt. “If they do, they will be the ones that run with it and bring it to market. If they don’t, we will be seeking investors.”

Source: William & Mary News and Media

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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