Fundamentally, surfactant chaperones mimic behaviors exhibited by naturally occurring stress proteins that protect living systems after injury. The safety of certain synthetic surfactants that act as molecular chaperones has been proven over time. In particular, polymeric surfactant chaperones that are symmetric block copolymers of polyethylene oxide-polypropylene oxide-polyethylene oxide (PEO-PPO-PEO) have been used to reduce blood viscosity for more than fifty years. The capability of this surfactant to repair damaged cell membranes, however, was unknown until the late 1980's when Raphael C. Lee, MD, ScD, PhD, Professor of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, discovered its unique cell membrane healing properties.
Dr. Lee’s exciting discovery spurred research into clinical applications that continues today. The first product from Dr. Lee’s laboratory has achieved FDA approval for testing in electrical shock victims. Another product under development in partnership with Purdue University is expected to enable human victims of spinal cord injury to regain more of their sensory and motor functions. Because a protocol for treating spinal cord injury would likely qualify for orphan drug status, it could receive accelerated FDA approval and be on the market in four to five years.
Another product based on Maroon’s surfactant chaperone technology could significantly improve clinical outcomes for heart attack and stroke victims. Heart attack and stroke injuries represent the 1st and 3rd leading causes of death in America, together accounting for more than 1.7 million patients each year. Drugs based on surfactant chaperone technology therefore have the potential to impact public health to a degree unseen since the introduction of antibiotics.
Dr. Lee is Maroon Biotech’s founder. Maroon’s Scientific Advisory Board consists of distinguished scientists led by Jeremy Marks, MD, PhD. Dr. Lee and Marks, their research team of molecular biologist, biophysicist, organic chemists and clinicians and their colleagues at Harvard University make up the core of Maroon Biotech’s development team. The Board and management team are equally well rounded, incorporating researchers as well as industry and academic leaders.
The Maroon Biotech team has won several accolades, including third place out of 59 entrants at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business New Venture Challenge in 2002, and 1st prize in the Murphree Venture Partners International Business Plan Competition at the MOOT Corp Competition in 2003, a major international business competition. Additionally, the NCIIA awarded Maroon Biotech an $18,000 grant in January of 2003.
Maroon Biotech is actively engaged in contract research in areas relating to membrane function which supports the development of Maroon’s core technologies. Maroon is also applying its technology to industrial protein processing, which will enable Maroon to broaden its industry scope. Poised for success and excited about its accomplishments, Maroon Biotech is dedicated to developing and commercializing synthetic chaperone technologies to improve the lives of individuals sustaining traumatic injuries.