Traverse Biosciences, a Stony Brook startup drug company, Monday announced a $250,000 deal with Kansas City, Kansas-based Aratana Therapeutics Inc. to pursue research and development of a drug to treat gum disease in dogs and cats.

Under the deal, Traverse gives Aratana the exclusive option to sublicense the drug, TRB-N0224, in companion animals subject to contractual terms. If Aratana exercises the option, Traverse would be eligible for up to $8.25 million in up-front and milestone payments plus royalties on worldwide net sales of the drug, created by researchers at Stony Brook University.

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Aratana, which trades on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the ticker symbol PETX, develops and licenses pharmaceutical products for pets. Dr. Steven St. Peter, CEO of Aratana Therapeutics, said in a statement that TRB-N0224 would be its first drug to treat oral health in pets.

The initial funds provided by Aratana will be used by Traverse to study the drug's efficacy in combating periodontal disease, or inflammation of gums, in dogs. Advanced periodontal disease can lead to other ailments affecting the liver, kidney and heart.

Traverse chief executive Joseph Scaduto said in a statement that the growth of the animal health market "represents a significant business opportunity."

Traverse, which also collaborates with scientists at the Feinstein Institute, the Manhasset-based research branch of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, has received funding from Accelerate Long Island and the Long Island Emerging Technologies fund, a joint partnership of Topspin Partners and Jove Equity Partners.

Traverse has an agreement with the Research Foundation for the State University of New York giving it rights to commercialize molecular drug compounds invented by Stony Brook University scientists. That agreement gives the company rights to pursue commercialization of TRB-N0224 to treat periodontal disease in humans.