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Houston’s Fannin Launches New Biotech, Exotect, to Treat Asthma

Xconomy Texas — 

Asthma treatments have typically focused on treating inflammation and constricted airways. Houston’s Fannin Innovation Studio has launched a company that tackles the disease’s third symptom: reducing overproduction of mucus.

The company, called Exotect, is still in the early stages. Stemming from research led by Burton Dickey, chair of the pulmonary department at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Exotect principal Dev Chatterjee says they hope to find a lead drug candidate within a year.

“We’ve identified the target molecule; we need to find the right drug to hit it with,” he says. “There are several parallel pathways to find the right drug. We have about nine compounds which we think are promising, so the next step is to push to one or two.”

Exotect is the second biotech company founded by Dickey. Fannin is also supporting Pulmotect, which is making an inhaled therapeutic to prevent and treat respiratory infections in cancer patients with compromised immune systems. Earlier this year, Dickey’s Pulmotect received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Exotect is the 12th company being housed at Fannin, a combination venture firm/incubator designed to provide management expertise to fledging biotech companies. The portfolio companies include Procyrion, which recently raised $10.8 million in venture capital. The medical device company is developing a circulatory support pump that aids the heart by pushing blood through the circulatory system and to vital organs.