Xequel Bio, Inc. (formerly FirstString Research)

| Information Technology

Region: Coastal
Industry: Life Science
Research from Medical University of South Carolina
Funding Received: SBIR/STTR Matching Grant, PDF Grant, SC Launch, Inc. Investment

“SCRA matched our federal SBIR Grant, increasing the impact of the grant and accelerating clinical trials of our lead product Granexin® gel.”

Dr. Gautam Ghatnekar, Founder and former CEO

Xequel Bio, Inc. is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Their breakthrough solutions provide therapies for inflammation and injury based medical conditions. The therapies mitigate excessive inflammation by calming the inflamed tissue and rebooting the body’s normal injury response. Xequel Bio is focused on diseases associated with dysregulation of inflammatory processes and modulation of injury response, such as cutaneous radiation injury, radiation dermatitis, and wounds.

The company was formed based on technology from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2007 by Dr. Ghatnekar. While Dr. Ghatnekar was a post-doctoral fellow at MUSC he studied regenerative medicine and discovered the translational benefits of the aCT peptide, which led to the formation of Xequel Bio. Xequel Bio’s technology is based on connexin-based peptides (α-Connexin Carboxyl-Terminal or aCT peptides) and the company has an exclusive license from MUSC for the connexin technology platform.

Based on the value of the technology, the federal government awarded Xequel Bio an SBIR Grant in 2007 and SCRA matched $100,000 of the grant through the SBIR/STTR Grant Matching Program. The company was also awarded a Project Development Fund Grant (PDF) and further SBIR/STTR Grant Matches from SCRA. Additionally, they have received four traunches of SC Launch, Inc. investments. Xequel Bio has used this funding to continue research at its Mount Pleasant offices and to advance clinical trials.

What did Xequel Bio’s Funding Pathway Look Like?

Learn more about each type of funding Xequel Bio received from SCRA and SC Launch, Inc. Click the links below to find out how to apply for this funding.

SBIR/STTR Matching Grant

SCRA awards matching funds up to $50,000 to client companies that have been granted federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Awards or Small Business Tech Transfer (STTR) Phase I Awards.Learn More

Project Development Fund Grant

SCRA provides community-based, early-stage development funding to qualified client companies. PDF grants are typically between $12,500 to $25,000 (cumulative) per company.Learn More

SC Launch, Inc. Investment

Client Companies may be eligible to receive investments from SC Launch, Inc. to help achieve milestones. Investments are approved by the SC Launch Board.Learn More

Follow-on Funding

Follow-on Funding is investment capital received after the company has received funding from SCRA or investment capital from SC Launch, Inc.

Now a graduate company, Xequel Bio is advancing their Granexin® Gel, a topical formulation developed for tissue regeneration that can help patients recover more fully and quickly from trauma. They have 3 clinical programs for the Granexin® Gel to improve treatment options and healing effectiveness for diabetic foot ulcers and chronic venous leg ulcers. The company has received $13 million in grants and over $18 million in investments with the most recent venture round of $15 million that closed in January 2018.