Senator Murphy Names Thetis Connecticut Innovator of the Month

WASHINGTON – In recognition of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced on Tuesday that Branford’s Thetis Pharmaceuticals – a biopharmaceutical company developing new oral therapies to treat inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – is this month’s “Murphy’s Innovator of the Month.” Thetis has a proprietary HEALER™ technology platform for developing new medicines that deliver naturally occurring lipids. These medicines have prospects to treat IBD by resolving inflammation and promoting tissue regeneration without compromising the body’s ability to fight infection. Thetis was co-founded in 2011 by Connecticut residents Gary Mathias, a lifelong ulcerative colitis patient and healthcare industry entrepreneur, and Dr. Frank Sciavolino, a former scientist at Pfizer who led the discovery, development and in-licensing of several of its best-selling pharmaceuticals, Zithromax® and Celebrex®.

Connecticut Innovations, the state-funded venture capital fund, is Thetis’ principal investor. Thetis is a member of the Technology Incubation Program at UConn Health, and is currently partnering with the lab of Dr. Daniel Rosenberg, Professor of Medicine at UConn Health, to conduct preclinical research. Last month, Thetis received a Fast-Track Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) worth up to $2.3 million.

“Thetis is a great example of how private industry and the government can work together to advance medical research and reduce illness,” said Murphy. “Thetis is on the brink of developing new therapies that can help improve the health of tens of millions of Americans, and I’m going to keep fighting on the Appropriations Committee to get them the federal resources they need.”

“Over 1.5 million Americans suffer from IBD and there remains a high unmet medical need for safe and effective new therapies,” said Mr. Mathias, Thetis’ CEO. “The state of Connecticut has been instrumental in supporting Thetis’ research to develop innovative drugs for patients suffering from this disease.”

Murphy believes entrepreneurship and innovation are building blocks for a strong economy. In the U.S. Senate, he has introduced two bipartisan pieces of legislation to incentivize angel investors to put more money into startup companies – the Angel Tax Credit Act and the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act. Last month, Murphy’s HALOS Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Startup companies create an average of 2 million jobs each year.

Murphy is also focused on securing federal NIH funding for Connecticut research institutions. Murphy recently helped secure over $4.8 billion for NIH over 10 years for new investments in cancer treatment and medical research, and celebrated a $2 billion increase in NIH federal investments for research institutions, such as those in Connecticut, that are working to develop new medical therapies, diagnostics, and preventative measures. Murphy also called on NIH to commit more resources to Connecticut’s leading research institutions, like Yale University. In 2015, Connecticut institutions received over $457.3 million in federal NIH grant funding for 1,100 projects.

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