DURHAM – A new, Singapore based biotech start-up, Travecta Therapeutics, has licensed intellectual property on a Duke-NUS Medical School discovery of how to deliver therapeutics across the blood-brain barrier.

Travecta plans to use the Duke technology to develop new drugs that can be selectively delivered across the blood-brain barrier for treatment of diseases of the brain, eye, and central nervous system.

The discovery is based on the work of Duke-NUS Professor David Silver, who published his research in 2014. He discovered a path and transport system that takes lipids such as omega-3 fatty acids and DHA, critical for brain development, to the brain. He discovered a transporter protein called Mfsd2a that carries the fatty acids to the brain.

Travecta was founded to commercialize the discovery. It is backed by TKS, a healthcare and life science focused venture fund by Tikehau Investment Management in Singapore..

Travecta plans to develop an Mfsd2a directed drug delivery platform that can efficiently and selectively transport drugs to the brain for improved results with fewer side effects. The company plans to work with biotech and major pharmaceutical companies to test using its technology for improving the transport of existing molecules.

Silver, who is scientific founder of Travecta said, “The blood brain barrier prevents more than 98 percent of small molecule drugs from entering the brain. The pathway we found can be exploited to deliver new or existing drugs which have proven ineffective due to their lack of transport.”