Austin-based Savara Pharmaceuticals Inc. won $1.9 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to develop drug-delivery systems using nanotechnology.
The company — which raised $1.4 million in venture backing last year — researches and develops ways of turning drugs into dry powders that can be inhaled to treat diseases such as asthma and lung cancer.
Savara licensed the technology from the University of Kansas. In 2008, the company moved from Kansas to Austin, where it established offices at the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas.
Savara CEO Rob Neville previously ran a biotech consulting firm and was chief executive and co-founder of Evity Inc., an Austin-based software company that he sold in 2000.
Savara has developed a way to turn drugs into microscopically tiny particles, which can be inhaled deep into the lungs. The process can improve the effectiveness of the drug, making it safer and more convenient for patients.
“Savara’s dry-powder technology holds great potential for treating asthma, lung cancer and other lung-based diseases,” said Jack McDonald, chairman of the Central Texas Regional Center of Innovation and Commercialization, which reviews candidates and makes recommendations for the technology awards. “This investment by the ETF will not only grow our biotech industry in Central Texas, but may result in new therapies that save lives.”
The Emerging Technology Fund is designed to support startups in advanced fields such as nanotechnology and alternative energy. More than two dozen Central Texas companies have received money from the fund.