UNC spin-off Entegrion receives $43.7 million from the Department of Defense to develop plasma substitute

Chip Rich, MD, MBA, FACS and Robert Dennis, PhD, members of the UNC faculty, are affiliated with the company.

Entegrion will use the money from the Department of Defense (DoD) to promote the clinical development of the drug Resusix®.

The drug is a “dehydrated pathogen-inactivated human plasma that holds promise as a substitute for fresh frozen plasma (FFP) in certain applications,” according to the company’s news release.

The drug is a plasma-derived therapeutic, said Dr. Preston B. ‘Chip’ Rich, MD, MBA, FACS, and does not require refrigeration for storage. “It will be used for indications similar to the currently available fresh frozen plasma blood bank product. An early focus will be for the treatment of hemorrhage and coagulopathy.”

Thomas Fischer, PhD, adjunct associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and a researcher and scientific director at UNC’s Francis Owen Blood Research Laboratory, co-founded the company. Initially, the company licensed key technologies from UNC, which were based on intellectual property developed at UNC and East Carolina University.

Dr. Rich is Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the company, as well as, Division Chief of Acute Care Surgery and Program Director of the Surgical Critical Care and Acute Care Surgery Fellowships at UNC. Robert G. Dennis, PhD, consults for Entegrion and is associate professor in the joint UNC-NCSU Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Dennis is the principle investigator on a grant for developing a portable blood platelet function testing device. The U.S. Army awarded Entegrion $2.77 million to conduct initial testing with human blood samples. UNC will participate in the testing.

Other university partners in the company include University of North Carolina, East Carolina University, Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Naval Medical Research Center. The DOD has funded clinical trials for Resusix through Phase III. Currently, plans are in place to perform the Phase I trials at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said Dr. Rich. Phase II and III trials will be larger, possibly multi-center, and participating centers are yet to be determined.

This $43.7 million award was in addition to two other recent large awards, both ongoing, from the DoD. Entegrion was awarded nearly $10 million in August, and $2.7 million in 2010 for various projects related to trauma injuries.

Read the release from Entegrion here.