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From the Caves of Michigan’s Sleeping Bears Comes Kalamazoo’s Aursos, and a Possible New Drug for Osteoporosis

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track record of launching successful pharmaceutical startups. Ronald Shebuski was director of cardiovascular therapeutics at Pharmacia & Upjohn between 1990 and 1998, and most recently helped launch Afmedica, a Kalamazoo, MI-based biotech startup that was sold to Angiotech Pharmaceuticals “for a nice sum,” he says.

Shebuski has a place up in Lake Gogebic, the biggest lake in Michigan’s U.P., which he rents out to vacationing snowmobilers. He heard about what Donahue was up to over at Michigan Tech—“this guy who was going into bear dens and getting blood,” and just had to find out what this seemingly mad professor was up to. Shebuski was so impressed that he bought the rights to the technology from Michigan Tech. In March 2007, he launched a company, Aursos, with backing from the Apjohn Group, a Kalamazoo-based life sciences business accelerator.

Since its founding, Aursos has been living from grant to grant to fund its development of black-bear PTH (BB-PTH 1-84), with Ann Arbor Spark and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. chipping in a few hundred thousand. Now, the company is out raising $10 million to take it into the next phase. It has just filed with the FDA for orphan drug designation for the drug as a treatment for muscular dystrophy. It’s not quite the post-menopausal osteoporosis market that Aursos is going after long-term, but to do that would take more than $100 million.

“We don’t have those kinds of resources,” Shebuski says. “And so what we have to do is get into the market and show that this is safe and effective, and then we’ll be able to partner, hopefully, with … Next Page »

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  • pal

    Something the article didn’t talk about: I am wondering if you missed a possible application when it comes to space exploration. Loss of bone and weakening is a known problem when it comes to extended space flight as well.