Success at Entegrion
Entegrion was co-founded in 2002 by scientist Dr. Arthur P. Bode, then at the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Brody School of Medicine, and Dr. Tom Fischer from UNC-Chapel Hill. Bode has since left ECU and now serves as scientific director at Entegrion.
Bode, along with Marjorie Read and Bob Reddick, initially developed freeze-dried human platelets, the component of blood that causes coagulation. The powdered product – Stasix – can be quickly reconstituted and injected into the body, where the platelets go directly to work to stop severe bleeding. Both UNC and ECU received equity in the company, sharing in royalties on the sale of Stasix.
Bode said development of Stasix put the company in the right place at the right time for commercialization of the new product, Resusix.
“From the first product development, we gained exposure with the Department of Defense. We became well-known players, recognized by the DOD as a good performer and therefore well-positioned when they actively sought companies ready to develop a dried plasma product.”
The DOD pushes for innovation in the medical community, urging companies to create better products, Bode said. “They tell us lives are being lost because you are not doing this better,” he said.
That was the case with the plasma product. Freeze-dried plasma had been available as far back as WWII but with serious drawbacks, particularly the transmission of blood-borne diseases through the product, Bode said.
Resusix was engineered to overcome existing problems. Entegrion co-founder Tom Fischer, along with Joe DaCorta, chief technical officer and vice president, and Michael Galiger, director of product development, designed a new spray-drying technique that creates a fine powdered product. They also used as their source material a solvent detergent treated plasma that eliminates many existing viruses.
Those innovations position the company “ahead of the game,” Bode said. Resusix is poised to enter clinical trials with the Food and Drug Administration. It will compete with similar products in the market.
The product’s name reflects its benefits – resuscitation. Bode said that plasma helps resuscitate trauma victims and repair blood vessels so that they can better carry red blood cells. The sooner patients receive plasma, the better their chance of survival.
With products now on the market, however, plasma injection may take hours. The products must be kept frozen and thawed before use. In addition, one out of 10 bags of plasma breaks, Bode said. The new dried plasma product can be reconstituted and injected within minutes. The product has life-saving potential, with applications in both domestic and military arenas.
“ECU should be proud that it had a hand in starting up Entegrion,” Bode said.
The support from the university came “at the right place at the right time. They were supportive without being overbearing, providing guidance without regulation. I applaud the administration for that,” he said.