Pharmaceutical company signs deal to license UWM Research Foundation intellectual property


A New Jersey-based biopharmaceutical company has entered into an agreement to license intellectual property from the UWM Research Foundation to use in developing commercial products.

The agreement grants patent and technology rights held by UWMRF to RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. for compounds that have shown promise for treatment of epilepsy and other convulsant disorders. The company is focused on the research and development of ampakines for central nervous system disorders and cannabinoids for the treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders.

A scientific team led by Dr. James Cook at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Dr. Jeffrey Witkin of the Indiana University School of Medicine is working with RespireRx on developing potential treatments.

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Under the patent license agreement, RespireRx is required to pay to UWMRF past patent costs, clinical milestone payments upon the dosing of the first patient in a Phase II clinical trial and in a Phase III clinical trial, upon the approval of new drug applications with the Food and Drug Administration and royalties on net sales of products developed with the licenses.

RespireRx was required to secure $1 million in capital as a term of the agreement. The company has received a $2 million investment from California-based White Lion Capital, LLC, according to an SEC filing Tuesday.

“We are extremely enthusiastic about the collaboration of our researchers with our new partners at RespireRx which is an excellent marriage of scientific and startup expertise,” said Dr. Jessica Silvaggi, director of technology commercialization at UWMRF. “We look forward to the next stages of pre-clinical testing of the lead GABAkine compound which shows great promise for epilepsy patients.”

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The compounds that are subject to the license agreement have shown impressive activity in a range of animal models of refractory/drug resistant epilepsy, RespireRx said. The company said new drugs are needed, as existing anticonvulsant drugs are not efficacious at some point in the disease progression for as many as 60% to 70% of epileptic patients.

The compounds have also shown positive activity in animal models of migraine, trigeminal pain, anxiety and other conditions, according to RespireRx.

The UWMRF intellectual property portfolio now includes 83 issued patents and 47 license option agreements, according to its website.

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