New Startups Debut at MassCONNECT® Showcase, Bayer & Nutter Sponsor Mentorship Program Cycle

Mar 01, 2017

This MassCONNECT® class includes entrepreneurs working to fight diabetes, discover drugs by screening in living animal models, revolutionize intravascular therapeutic embolization and deliver immunity with designer recombinant nanoparticles

March 1, 2017 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — Startup companies working to fight diabetes, discover drugs by screening in living animal models, revolutionize intravascular therapeutic embolization, and deliver immunity with designer recombinant nanoparticles have been chosen for a new cycle of MassBio’s MassCONNECT® mentoring program, sponsored by Bayer and Nutter.

MassCONNECT®, the only entrepreneur mentorship program in Massachusetts that dives deep into the life sciences industry, kicked off its first cycle of 2017 with a Technology Showcase today. At the Showcase, the chosen entrepreneurs presented their ideas to a room of industry executives and potential mentors for early feedback.

The entrepreneurs are now matched with mentor teams that possess expertise specific to the entrepreneurs’ objectives and business needs. The entrepreneurs will receive coaching from these mentors over a two-month period before presenting in a final session in front of potential investors and partners.

Bayer and Nutter are sponsoring this MassCONNECT® cycle and providing mentors for the entrepreneur teams.

“The MassCONNECT® program establishes a collaborative, entrepreneurial environment to foster patient-focused innovations,” said Chandra Ramanathan, Vice President, Head of the East Coast Innovation Center at Bayer. “Bayer is proud to support MassCONNECT® as a member of the unique life science ecosystem in Boston, and we look forward to mentoring this inspiring group of entrepreneurs.” 

“The MassCONNECT® program provides meaningful impact to the region’s life sciences entrepreneurs by teaming them up with seasoned mentors on how to navigate these crucial stages,” said Konstantin Linnik, Ph.D., a partner in Nutter’s Intellectual Property Department. “Nutter is proud to support MassCONNECT® in its mission to accelerate the development of these innovative thought leaders who are transforming the future of health care.”

 The applicants chosen for the latest round of mentorship are:

Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Alan Schneyer, PhD; Elissa Brown, MS

Concord, MA

Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals Inc. ( is focused on developing novel therapies for diabetes based on beta cell regeneration. Inadequate insulin production is commonly caused by a reduction in the number and/or function of beta cells in pancreatic islets. Fairbanks is focused on developing novel therapies that enhance the recently discovered transdifferentiation process in which other islet cell types are converted into beta cells.

Genma Biosciences

Fred Ausubel, PhD; Yamuna Krishnan, PhD; William Kubasek, PhD; Deb McEwan, PhD; Hakkim Rahmathullah, PhD

Genma Biosciences is using the well-established genetic model C. elegans in a high throughput phenotypic screening format to discover novel therapies and drug targets. By engineering C. elegans to mimic human disease and then screening for compounds or mutations in gene targets that correct the disease in living animals, Genma is able to rapidly identify the best lead compounds for advancement into the clinic. Gemma’s technology platform was developed to identify anti-infectives and immune modulators and is now be used to investigate RNA repeat diseases such as myotonic dystrophy and lysosome based diseases such as NCL. Genma anticipates that the therapies discovered through its whole animal approach can have broader application to other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and inflammatory bowel disease.  

Obsidio Medical

Alan Braly, SM, MBA; Ali Khademhosseini, PhD; Robert Langer, ScD; Rahmi Oklu, MD, PhD

Boston, MA

Obsidio Medical is disrupting therapeutic embolization with a novel, shear-thinning hydrogel biomaterial technology. Embolization is the treatment of choice when a blood vessel, organ, or tumor must be blocked-off due to injury, damage, or malformation. The biomaterial has unique properties that enable a solid polymer to be easily delivered directly through clinical catheters into the blood vessel, whereupon it forms a solid cast of the vessel. Unlike existing products, it immediately halts blood flow without relying on precipitation, polymerization, or the patient’s ability to coagulate. Obsidio’s approach to therapeutic embolization will reduce morbidity and mortality, and will be more efficacious, faster, and more cost-effective.

Versatope Therapeutics

Matthew DeLisa, PhD; Christopher Locher, PhD; David Putnam, PhD 

Lexington, MA

Versatope Therapeutics Incorporated is a preclinical-stage biotechnology company solving problems in vaccine potency and therapeutic delivery using a “bacterial factory” nanoparticle technology. These nanoparticles have versatility in their applications and multiple epitopes can be displayed to overcome strain-specific immunity. Versatope is leveraging its technology platform as a single vaccine to protect against multiple strains of influenza. The nanoparticles could also be used to display antibodies, receptors, or enzymes to further expand their application in bioremediation, diagnostics, and therapeutic delivery.

Past MassCONNECT® graduates have leveraged the skills learned and advice provided through the program to secure industry collaborations, investment and grants, recruit company executives and win other industry and business plan competitions.

MassCONNECT® is open to opportunities that involve the development of new technologies, products, services, applications or processes in the life sciences area. Typically, these include new diagnostic tests, pre-clinical therapeutic molecules, platform technologies and/or instrumentation.

For more information, or to apply to be a mentor, mentee or MBA intern, visit

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