Professor Texas A&M’s biotechnology company develops partnerships within the university system

Biology Professor Jim Smith


Texas A&M College of Sciences

Jim Smith, professor of biology at Texas A&M University, founded Sano Chemicals in 2012 and since then the company has continued to develop innovative technologies for acute and chronic diseases with a focus on treating fungal infections and drug-resistant bacteria.

Texas A&M University Innovation Partners, the university’s commercialization and new ventures office, has partnered with Sano Chemicals to assist in the commercial application of these innovative technologies by obtaining patent protection and subsequently granting patent rights license to Sano.

Collaboration with Innovation Partners and other academic units related to entrepreneurship and commercialization also helps Sano and Texas A&M directly contribute to the strength and diversity of the local economy by creating new employment opportunities from high technology, both at A&M Laboratories and at Sano Chemicals, which currently employs 12 people in various capacities. Ravi Orugunty, vice president of product development at Sano Chemicals, said many of the technologies developed in Texas A&M’s Smith’s Lab are licensed to Sano. Sano is taking these technologies to the clinical stage.

“The Smith Lab has received tremendous support from the university system,” Orugunty said. “We are able to advance these technologies and as a result Sano was able to garner enough NIH [National Institutes of Health] support it in the development of its products. Innovation Partners has done all the groundwork, so to speak, to ensure that we have a smooth transition of all technologies from Dr. Smith’s lab to Sano Chemicals.

The partnership between Sano Chemicals and Innovation Partners has proven beneficial on both fronts. Smith said he considers Innovation Partners to be one of many valuable partnerships within the university system.

“The relationship involves a licensing agreement for technology that Sano Chemicals is developing to treat diseases that have unmet needs,” Smith said. “Some of this technology from my lab at A&M is being translated into new drugs to treat infectious diseases and cancer. I’ve always seen the university as a partner, and we’re both in this together. If Sano does not succeed, the university does not succeed; if Sano succeeds, the university succeeds.

Sano Chemicals’ efforts not only benefit members of the academic community, but the company has made advancements in medical technologies and continues to do so. Smith explained that Sano is currently working on several therapeutic products.

“What we have identified as a very potent antifungal compound is one of our technologies, which we are developing into a novel treatment for invasive and non-invasive fungal infections,” Smith said. “The flagship product that we are currently developing at Sano is a product to treat recurrent vaginal candidiasis. We are also developing another antimicrobial compound to treat staph infections. We are working on another technology platform to be able to treat cancer as well. »

Innovation Partners continually seeks to help researchers and inventors advance their technologies. Innovation Partners Senior Licensing Manager, Ankur Dayal, emphasized that Innovation Partners is proud to establish an exemplary partnership with Sano.

“Sano Chemicals, created by a Texas A&M professor, is the perfect partner for us, and what better cause than to advance the creation of antibiotics and fight fungal infections which are among the biggest challenges facing our generation. “, said Dayal. “International patent protection for portfolio of inventions prepares Sano for global impact.”

Chris Scotti, now director of new ventures at Innovation Partners, has worked with Sano for more than seven years in a variety of roles. Scotti’s New Ventures unit will continue to provide services to help Sano and other college-based start-ups continue to grow. Sano’s success and continued development has set the standard for growth for biotechnology companies and other potential partners with Innovation Partners.

“The New Ventures unit that I currently lead will continue to connect and provide ongoing services, such as assistance in building a management team and finding larger funding rounds, as companies like Sano continue to grow,” Scotti said. “Dr. Jim Smith and Sano Chemicals are a great example for other faculty spinouts to follow; with the faculty member taking on a scientific role in the company while continuing as a research professor, with more than 2 million dollars of this sponsored research at Texas A&M funded by the company.

For more information on Sano Chemicals, visit their website. To learn more about the Innovation Partners, visit their website at tamuip.tamu.edu.

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