UM Ventures Backs Innovative UMB Startup Programs and Technologies to Aid Clinicians in the Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic

Following the initial outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the US, most of the public’s attention was focused on finding hand sanitizer, toilet paper and face masks. While these resources are imperative to help prevent the spread of the virus, there is a dire need for more healthcare technology that will directly impact the treatment of patients who contract the virus and become seriously ill. At the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), physicians, faculty/researchers and tech transfer professionals have been working diligently to bring innovations to life to help clinicians on the front line treat patients and fight this outbreak.

UM Ventures is currently seeking investors to support the development of the following companies, researchers and their technologies to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gen1E Lifesciences has spent the last two years developing a therapeutic drug treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). When Dr. Ritu Lal, the company’s CEO, established Gen1E, she could not have imagined the threat the world would be facing today due to COVID-19. The company’s treatment for ARDS is needed now more than ever. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) develops from a severe immune-related response that causes the patient’s lungs to fill with fluid to the point where they cannot breathe. This disease alone has a 40% mortality rate and is now the leading cause of death as a result of COVID-19 (Lancet, Mar 2020). According to recent studies, 67% of critical COVID-19 patients are afflicted with ARDS (Lancet, Feb 2020).  

GEn1E acquired an exclusive, worldwide and all-fields license to UMB’s specific and function selective p38a kinase inhibitor program in late 2019. The company has already developed a lead molecule and is racing to clinical study.

“We are doing everything we can to accelerate our lead compound into clinical testing in ARDS, and will next proceed with seeking approvals to utilize our platform for other inflammatory and age-related diseases. The entire team from UMB has been helping us super-accelerate to accomplish this,” said Dr. Lal.

The company recently graduated from Y Combinator and Stanford accelerator StartX. Under the leadership of Dr. Lal, the company is advancing its drug to the clinic with a study site chosen and clinical material for human studies now being manufactured.GEn1E, which has already raised $3MM is looking for an immediate investment partner to speed up the fight against a pandemic that is devastating public health and economies around the world.

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