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is intended to protect against the hazards of the excess oxygen and the buildups of calcium in cells that damage tissues. (David Stipp took a deep dive into the science at Ischemix in an Xconomy story about two years ago.)
Ischemix (pronounced iss-KEY-mix), founded in 1999, is competing with industry giants that are working on the same problem. New York-based drug-maker Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) is funding KAI Pharmaceuticals’s mid-stage clinical trial of a drug for ischemic-reperfusion injuries in patients undergoing certain heart surgeries. Also, Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) has brought on a late-stage program in this field through its blockbuster merger with Schering-Plough last year.
It’s no mistake to find these industry giants pursing this problem: the multi-billion dollar market for heart drugs is one of the largest in the pharmaceutical industry. The two people who stand to gain or lose the most money on Ischemix are company chairman and president Reinier Beeuwkes and Geoffrey Clark, the firm’s medical director. Both men have provided most of the some $20 million the firm has raised, says DuFresne, who took over the role of CEO from Beeuwkes in early 2009. He declined to name the firm’s other investors, who he says are wealthy individuals.
Beeuwkes and Clark have reaped the benefits of the successes of a previous company they founded, Braintree Laboratories, a Braintree, MA-based firm that specializes in bowel-cleansing treatments taken prior to colonoscopies, according to DuFresne. By late this year, we may know whether these entrepreneurs will have an encore for the heart drug market.