Steve Chen, Cellics Therapeutics president and CMO (Cellics)

UC San Diego spin­out award­ed up to $15M for nanosponge de­signed to soak up sep­sis-caus­ing tox­ins

CARB-X, a glob­al part­ner­ship look­ing to spur the de­vel­op­ment of new an­tibac­te­r­i­al drugs, is award­ing Cellics Ther­a­peu­tics $3.94 mil­lion to do what pres­i­dent and CMO Steve Chen calls “look­ing at tra­di­tion­al drug de­vel­op­ment up­side down.”

In­stead of go­ing af­ter a tar­get di­rect­ly — in this case bac­te­r­i­al tox­ins and in­flam­ma­to­ry cy­tokines that cause sep­sis — Cellics re­searchers “flip it around” to ex­am­ine the host cells be­ing at­tacked. The UC San Diego spin­out then cre­ates what it calls “nanosponges” — nanopar­ti­cles cloaked in the frag­ments of macrophage cell mem­branes. Chen says the “sponges” are de­signed to trap the sep­sis-caus­ing en­do­tox­ins and cy­tokines on their cell mem­branes, neu­tral­iz­ing them.

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