Joseph Scaduto, CEO of Traverse Biosciences, says a $1.3 million...

Joseph Scaduto, CEO of Traverse Biosciences, says a $1.3 million grant puts the company closer to potential human trials for a drug that targets periodontal disease. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Traverse Biosciences Inc., a Stony Brook-based drug research and commercialization startup, has received a $1.3 million award from a division of the National Institutes of Health, the company announced Wednesday.

The award, given by NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, will be used for preclinical safety and efficacy testing of Traverse’s leading drug candidate for the treatment of periodontal disease. The startup is partnered with Stony Brook’s School of Dental Medicine on the drug research project.

The drug compound, called TRB-N0224, was discovered by Lorne Golub at the dental school’s Department of Oral Biology and Pathology, and Francis Johnson, president of Chem-Master International Inc., and professor of chemistry and pharmacological sciences.

Joseph Scaduto, founder and chief executive of Traverse Biosciences, said the federal grant allows the company to scale up production of the drug for early-stage testing, taking Traverse closer to potential human trials. “It’s a significant influx of capital to support the advancement of the drug,” he said.

“Once we have those materials in hand, we can conduct an efficacy study to evaluate the drug’s effectiveness” in animal subjects, Scaduto said. The company would need between $2 million and $3 million more to reach phase 1 trials in humans, he said.

Founded more than three years ago, Traverse has a licensed library of drug candidates it is working to commercialize. The company is seeking to use chemically modified versions of curcumin, a molecular component found in thespice turmeric, as the basis forthe treatment of inflammatory diseases in both humans and animals.

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