18 Oct Grants worth $800,000 help BellBrook Labs develop products
Madison, Wis. – BellBrook Labs has been awarded two federal grants totaling more than $800,000 for continued development of its enzyme screening product.
The biotechnology company, which develops high throughput screening tools for the drug-therapy market, said the new grants include Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards. High throughput screening allows researchers to conduct millions of biochemical, genetic, or pharmacological tests in a short period of time.
The Phase I grant was awarded by the National Institute of Neurodegenerative Disorders and Stroke for the extension of BellBrook’s “Transcreener” screening platform into DNA “methyltransferases,” a new family of drug targets.
The targeting of these DNA enzymes with small-molecule drugs is considered an underused strategy for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Bellbrook’s products are designed to speed the identification and development of drugs targeting methyltransferases.
John Majer, COO of BellBrook Labs, indicated the enzyme is part of the human body’s “chemical tool box.”
“The methyltransferases are produced in our bodies, and one very important role for methyltransferases is in regulation of chromosome structure,” Majer said.
In addition, the Phase II grant, awarded by the National Cancer Institute, will be used for improvements to the Transcreener, its top-selling product. These upgrades will include formatting the assay for another detection mode, a move that should broaden its market appeal.
“It still would be the same group – drug-discovery laboratories,” Majer said, “but some of them have a preference for one method over the other. So we’re trying to broaden the appeal of the product by offering different varieties of it.”
Robert Lowery, president and CEO of BellBrook, compared providing an assay in different detection formats to “meeting customers’ preferences for different flavors.”
BellBrook, located in University Research Park, employs 13 people and reported $1.2 million in sales in 2005. Since its inception in 2002, the company has been financed with a combination of federal grants, a loan from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, and a private equity financing.
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