A leading inventor of Alzheimer’s disease treatments, Dr. Mark Gurney recently accomplished an exciting milestone – his business, Tetra Therapeutics, was acquired by Shionogi & Co. Ltd., a Japanese pharmaceutical company, for up to $500 million.
Tetra, a West Michigan-based biotech start-up, is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a portfolio of therapeutic products for people suffering from Fragile X syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and other brain disorders. In addition to this acquisition being a big business success, it will also be a huge step towards bringing their groundbreaking therapeutic for Alzheimer’s to commercialization.
Tetra’s journey to bring life-changing therapeutics to market began in 2010, with Dr. Gurney and a laptop. After Dr. Gurney submitted his first grant proposal to the National Institute for Health (NIH), he realized he needed some guidance on making the transition from the world of education and corporate America into the world of entrepreneurship. He began working with the Michigan SBDC’s Tech Team in the early stages of his business, and by 2013 had already achieved significant success leveraging various state and Federal funding mechanisms.
“Michigan SBDC assistance was critical during the early formation of Tetra,” said Dr. Mark Gurney, Founder and CEO of Tetra Discovery Partners, LLC. “The early, high risk research conducted by Tetra was funded by the National Institutes of Health through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. The Michigan SBDC Tech Team provided advice and resources for navigating the myriad federal and state agencies required to secure federal research grant funding.”
Tetra’s lead product, BPN14770 is in mid-stage human clinical trials for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and Fragile X syndrome, a genetic form of intellectual disability associated with autism. BPN14770 targets a novel mechanism of drug action in the brain. The advanced mechanism of action is believed to enhance cognitive and memory function in CNS disorders such as FXS, AD and other dementias such as learning/developmental disabilities and schizophrenia.
“It has been great to watch the company develop and grow,” said Anna Bier, Mark’s Michigan SBDC Technology Business Consultant. Anna first began working with Mark in 2011 on the terms of his very first SBIR, and she and other members of the SBDC Technology Team have since helped Tetra prepare subsequent awards and with their seed round of financing. “Mark has done an amazing job getting Tetra to this point and this outcome is so well-deserved.”
The State of Michigan’s entrepreneurial services created a support network for Tetra throughout their growth and development. Dr. Gurney leveraged insights from the BioSciences Research Commercialization Center of Western Michigan University, the WMed Innovation Center, West Michigan Science & Technology Incubator (WMSTI) at Grand Valley State University, Ann Arbor Spark, Invest Michigan and Start Garden.
Tetra Therapeutics will continue to be based in West Michigan as a fully owned subsidiary of Shionogi & Co. Ltd. Dr. Gurney offered the following advice to other would be entrepreneurs, “Building a company mirrors what I learned about life through running marathons. Be a completer. Finish the race.”
Learn more about Tetra Therapeutics by visiting tetratherapeutics.com.
Michigan SBDC assistance was critical during the early formation of Tetra. The early, high risk research conducted by Tetra was funded by the National Institutes of Health through Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. The Michigan SBDC Tech Team provided advice and resources for navigating the myriad federal and state agencies required to secure federal research grant funding.Dr. Mark Gurney, Founder and CEO of Tetra Discovery Partners, LLC