Local angel investment firm Centennial Investors has put $230,000 into a Columbia-based biotech company developing drugs to treat the wasting disease cachexia in animals.
Animal Health Specialties is one of two companies scientist Kenneth Gruber has founded to commercialize his cachexia research. When he relocated to Columbia in January 2011 from Wake Forest University in North Carolina, he brought his first company, Tensive Controls, with him. The main draw was the Missouri Innovation Center’s Life Science Business Incubator on South Providence Road, where Gruber still works.
While the science is the same, Tensive Controls aims to develop a human drug for cachexia, which often affects people with cancer or other debilitating diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Gruber formed Animal Health Specialties as a separate company in the summer of 2012 to develop the drug for pets because the regulatory hurdles are lower and required tests are far fewer.