MSU names drug company year’s best start-up

STARKVILLE — Sano Chemical, the company launched to develop an antifungal drug discovered at Mississippi State University, has received the university’s Faculty Start-up Company of the Year.

Dr. Stephen Pruett, basic sciences department head at MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said the award was given by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer at the I3, or Investing in Innovation, conference. Dr. Frank Austin, CVM associate professor, received the award on behalf of James Smith, an adjunct professor at CVM and a professor at Texas A&M University and; Dr. Shien Lu, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station researcher; and Pruett, who collaborated with Sano Chemical on toxicology studies.

“The company was formed about two years ago to develop the antifungal compound occidiofungin,” Pruett said. “We are continuing research at MSU to develop different uses of the compound and are pursuing funding to continue the development research of this compound.”

The potential drug shows significant promise for the treatment of serious fungal infections in people with compromised immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy treatments and those with HIV or AIDS. While MSU holds numerous patents and licenses, this is the first time a potential pharmaceutical drug has emerged from MSU research.

Sano Chemical is in the preclinical stages of research on this compound and has published several papers on the subject.

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