The City of Kannapolis welcomes SNP Therapeutics, a new medical food and supplement company to the North Carolina Research Campus.
The company, SNP Therapeutics (pronounced “snip”), was formed a year ago in labs at the North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) in Kannapolis, N.C. With the development of its first products and a startup grant from NCBioTech, the company will begin hiring staff this Fall. This is the first startup company to form due to the research success of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute located at NCRC.
This company is utilizing the positive research completed at the NCRC to develop products for everyday use by people with certain medical conditions. The company is developing four medical food products and one prenatal supplement. Each will have a specific genetic test to identify the appropriate patients for the products. The first four medical food products will help to address some of these areas of unmet need: fatty liver, muscle wasting, sarcopenia (muscle loss associated with aging), and sperm motility disorders.
The company’s first supplement will be for women who have difficulty during pregnancy in properly producing or utilizing choline and other so-called “1-carbon” molecules that are critical to proper fetal development during pregnancy and lactation.
The company founder, Steven Zeisel, M.D., Ph.D., is a world-renowned expert on nutrition and brain development.
Zeisel is the Kenan distinguished professor of nutrition and co-director of nutrition and obesity research at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He’s also director of UNC’s Nutrition Research Institute located at the NCRC in Kannapolis.
In 2012 the North Carolina Biotechnology Center supported Zeisel’s research with a $100,000 grant to fund the development of specialized nutritional products. Now, NCBiotech has again boosted Zeisel’s work, by awarding SNP Therapeutics with the Presidential Initiative Award and an $80,000 grant.
The Biotech Center has been active in leading a statewide collaborative effort to keep North Carolina in the forefront of the burgeoning precision medicine sector, and SNP Therapeutics is a high-profile example.
“This grant provides an innovative way to fund company retention and relocation, in this case, in our growing life-science cluster in the Greater Charlotte Region,” explained Corie Curtis, executive director of NCBiotech’s Greater Charlotte Office.
Zeisel agreed, adding, "This vote of confidence from NCBiotech, for the first company spun out from the UNC Nutrition Research Institute, is a great help. The Institute focuses on gene-guided nutrition and SNP Therapeutics is translating this work to new medical foods and genetic tests that will help many people."
Jon Kleu, SNP Therapeutics CEO, added, "As SNP Therapeutics launches our company, the partnerships with NCBiotech, the City of Kannapolis, and the North Carolina Research Campus are invaluable. This award will assist with ongoing product development work and provide opportunities for the company to build out the infrastructure to support the work bringing new jobs to the Charlotte region. We believe our precision gene-guided approach in the medical food industry will be the first of its kind and will benefit many patients and provide treatment for a number of different medical conditions."
The company has also received a $1 million investment from the venture capital firm Coddle Creek Capital. Kleu said the company is in discussions with a variety of major global corporations that are interested in their precision gene guided approach to personalized nutrition.
Kleu said the company has a number of additional therapies and genetic tests in development for the second wave of products it plans to bring to market.
“We are excited for this next phase of the North Carolina Research Campus,” said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant. “A decade of research is now paying off with real-life applications that can help people around the world. We welcome SNP Therapeutics and are here to cheerlead them on as they begin production.”
Mark Spitzer, president for North Carolina operations with Castle & Cooke, added, “We at the North Carolina Research Campus want to congratulate SNP Therapeutics and to thank the North Carolina Biotech Center for bestowing this prestigious award that recognizes Dr. Zeisel’s groundbreaking research into the health impact of choline and his partnership with CCC to create SNP Therapeutics. We believe that SNP Therapeutics is the first of what will be many, entrepreneurial ventures derived from research, conducted at the NCRC to improve human health and well-being.”
The North Carolina Research Campus is a unique public/private partnership involving eight North Carolina universities, numerous companies, and community partners focused on researching and developing safer, more-nutritious crops, healthier foods, and precision nutrition.
SNP Company Information: SNP Therapeutics researches diseases and medical conditions in areas currently without viable treatment options or very few therapy options to treat the medical problem. It uses high-tech analysis of a patients' genomes to identify genetic variants that cause disease – genetic misspellings technically known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. Once the company identifies the targeted SNP, it designs and evaluates personalized medical food preparations to treat each patient’s metabolic disorder.
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