Katana Pharmaceuticals Awarded up to $1.05 Million Innovative Challenge Grant from March of Dimes to Support the Development of a Novel Non-Opioid Treatment for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome


SAN FRANCISCO, June 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Katana Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Katana), a San Francisco-based startup biotech company developing novel treatments for neonatal patient populations and rare pediatric disorders, today announced the receipt of the first payment of an up to $1.05 million Innovative Challenge Grant from March of Dimes to develop a novel non-opioid treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).*

"We are extremely grateful for this grant from March of Dimes and for the amazing advocacy work they do for the health of mothers and babies," said Dr. Dean Carson, President and CEO of Katana and Principle Investigator on the grant. "Current opioid-based approaches to the treatment of NAS are suboptimal. Non-opioid treatments for NAS are urgently needed and we are dedicated to addressing this need."

Dr. Jonathan Davis, Chief of Newborn Medicine, Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, Professor of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, and Co-Investigator on the grant stated, "A growing number of newborns with NAS face a challenging first few weeks of life suffering from withdrawal from prenatal exposure to opioids and other psychoactive substances. It is unclear what the long-term effects of NAS are, but emerging research suggests that both prenatal and postnatal opioid-exposure may negatively impact long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes. There is an urgent need for safe and effective non-opioid treatments and I look forward to this collaboration and trying to find better alternatives to address this critically important problem."

Dr. Rahul Gupta, Chief Medical & Health Officer, Interim Chief Scientific Officer, Senior Vice President at March of Dimes stated, "We are thrilled to support Katana with the development of a novel non-opioid treatment for NAS. Through my work at March of Dimes and previously as public health commissioner for West Virginia, I have witnessed the devastating effects of the opioid crisis on mothers and babies. With no FDA approved treatments for NAS, it is clear that there is a huge unmet need. We are dedicated to supporting the development of novel treatment options for mothers and babies and are hopeful that Katana will be able to make a significant contribution for babies suffering from NAS."

March of Dimes Innovative Challenge Grants offer organizations incremental funding for translational research that has a treatment, product, or an intervention as the primary endpoint. Following initial funding over a six-month period, grantees must meet clear-cut deliverables to possibly achieve the second tranche of funding.

About Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a constellation of signs of withdrawal caused by prenatal exposure to opioids and other psychoactive substances. Neonates with NAS experience central and autonomic nervous system dysfunction which if left untreated can result in seizures and death. Clinically significant signs of NAS occur in as many as 80% of opioid-exposed neonates, with some estimates suggesting that up to 50,000 babies are treated for NAS every year in the US. There remain no FDA approved treatments for NAS, with most opioid-exposed neonates still treated with an opioid-based regimen (morphine, methadone, or buprenorphine). Due to the high rates of polypharmacy during pregnancy (e.g., benzodiazepines, antidepressants, nicotine), additional medications including clonidine and phenobarbital are often needed to manage NAS.

About Katana
Katana is a San Francisco-based biotech startup committed to the development of safe and effective treatments for patients with the highest unmet needs. Through partnerships with patient organizations and world leading clinical experts, we are developing novel treatments for neonatal patient populations and rare pediatric disorders. Read more at www.katanapharma.com

Forward-Looking Statements
Forward-looking statements in this press release are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

*This grant partially funds the development work required to initiate a proof-of-concept clinical trial; the remainder is funded by Katana.

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SOURCE Katana Pharmaceuticals Inc.