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Maker of Ebola drug ZMapp, IU-based developer of PTSD therapy lead inaugural Innovation Conference


 BLOOMINGTON — An executive whose company co-developed ZMapp, the experimental Ebola drug used to treat U.S. aid workers in 2014, is among several speakers scheduled for the inaugural Innovation Conference hosted by IU Bloomington’s Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology.

 Using ZMapp as an example, Mapp Biopharmaceuticals CEO Kevin Whaley will discuss how his company develops monoclonal antibodies as therapeutics. He also will outline Mapp’s business strategy of using government grants and contracts to fund its research efforts.

The conference begins at 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 24, in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana Memorial Union and concludes at 6:30 p.m. The event is designed to help scholars and researchers at the Bloomington campus become more engaged in entrepreneurial activities. Registration is free.

“We are excited to host our first innovation workshop, where we will introduce IU Bloomington faculty to resources they can use to support translational research projects,” said Keith R. Davis, director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology, which is based in Simon Hall. “We will also discuss how best to develop and prepare these projects for involvement in the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. Spin Up program.”

 Spin Up’s director, Joe Trebley, will cover how to start a business through the program. Since 2011, Spin Up has launched 24 companies and raised more than $2.3 million on their behalf.

A co-founder of one such company, Yvonne Lai, will discuss what it is like to work with Spin Up. A senior scientist with the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Bloomington, Lai teamed with IU School of Medicine professor Anantha Shekhar in 2013 to launch Anagin.

Based in Indianapolis, Anagin is developing a novel treatment to battle post-traumatic stress disorder without producing the debilitating side effects that come with current treatments. With Spin Up’s support, Anagin won the third annual BioCrossroads New Venture Competition in 2014 and received a $692,706 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Company profiles on Anagin and Mapp Biopharmaceuticals also will be presented. Additional topics include overviews of federal programs such as Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants that, along with private investment, help fund promising startups. The full lineup of speakers is available at the Johnson Center’s website.

More about ZMapp

 With several public and private partners, San Diego-based Mapp has worked since 2003 to develop ZMapp, which uses antibodies grown in tobacco plants. In 2014, the experimental drug drew worldwide media attention when a limited quantity was used on U.S. aid workers Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, who contracted Ebola in Liberia. Brantly is a 2009 graduate of the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Ebola is a rare and deadly form of hemorrhagic fever, with more than 10,700 fatalities occurring during the 2014 epidemic in West Africa — the largest such outbreak to date. In January, ZMapp proved effective in animal studies. Clinical trials on humans began in February.

About the Johnson Center

 The Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology works with faculty throughout the IU Bloomington campus to identify current and new research programs that hold commercial potential and to protect intellectual property. It also assists with grant applications, identifying industry partners, negotiating industry contracts, project management support and developing strategies to increase the use of core IU facilities by industry partners.

 About IURTC

 The Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. is a not-for-profit agency that helps IU faculty and researchers realize the commercial potential of their discoveries. Its Spin Up program aids companies with promising technologies in their early stages of development. Since 1997, IURTC’s university clients have accounted for more than 1,800 inventions, nearly 500 patents and 38 start-up companies.

 About Innovate Indiana:

 Indiana University is designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. This recognizes IU’s commitment across all its campuses to being a leading institution in fostering regional economic development. The university’s Innovate Indiana initiative engages strategic partners to leverage and advance the university’s intellectual resources and expertise, enhance Indiana’s economic growth and contribute to the overall quality of life for Hoosiers.