A Chesterfield, Missouri scientist, Thomas Brutnell leads Viridis Genomics Consulting, focusing on leading-edge developments in plant genetics and genomics. Thomas Brutnell’s work centers on agricultural biotechnology communities, including pre-Series A biotech firms with disruptive research approaches. His guidance includes project management, as well as R&D, grant writing, and manuscript editing.
As an innovator in genomics technologies, Thomas Brutnell serves as the vice president of Gateway Biotechnology in St. Louis, Missouri. Drawing on over 25 years of molecular biology, genetics, and genomics experience, Thomas Brutnell oversees Gateway’s innovative drug research and development projects.
Founded in 2011, Gateway Biotechnology is a drug research company located in St. Louis. The company focuses on repurposing FDA-approved drugs for use in treating and preventing hearing disorders. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drug on the market for treating the majority of hearing problems that Gateway Biotechnology aims to address.
The company is currently conducting studies to deploy innovative solutions for noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. One of their projects, funded by the US Department of the Army, centers on developing effective treatments for noise-induced hearing loss and is now being tested in a clinical phase II trial. Gateway’s research pipeline has largely been driven through non-dilutive grants from the National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer STTR programs.
The company is now actively seeking investments to help accelerate the development of a product to protect against acute acoustic trauma.
Thomas Brutnell, a skilled executive in the biotechnology sector, splits his time among a variety of endeavors. He is the founder of Viridis Genomics Consulting and serves as a visiting scientist for the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Beyond these roles, Thomas Brutnell is vice president of Gateway Biotechnology, a St. Louis-based drug-development business that recently secured over $2 million in federal funding.
Gateway was founded in 2011 with the purpose of developing drugs that prevent and treat hearing disorders. Since its founding, it has received several Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and SBIR grants from the NIH. It also is part of a $10 million contract from the United States Department of the Army to develop a treatment to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. The drug produced through this project is part of a clinical Phase II trial.
With the new SBIR grant, Gateway plans on supporting the advanced development of a tinnitus treatment. Tinnitus involves a ringing in the ear and is associated with hearing loss. While several companies seek drugs that prevent and treat this condition, there are currently no FDA-approved drugs for tinnitus on the market. The funding will help Gateway expand pilot studies of their lead candidate, a plant natural product, and move closer to clinical trials and FDA approval.
Plant genomics is a science with significant potential, especially as it relates to food security and crop diversity and improvement. In particular, one way that plant genomics is helping to ensure food security is through the collection, sequencing, and classification of gene banks and seed banks. Seed banks are a vital element in the preservation and organization of crop taxonomy and origins.
Studying these resources can provide significant insight into how desired traits are selected and passed on. Large scale studies, although they are logistically challenging, are among the best ways to undertake this sort of research. Ultimately, researchers might be able to use the data to create a generalizable framework for the improvement of other crops including those with medicinal properties.
Based in Missouri, Thomas Brutnell guides Viridis Genomics Consulting and works with business and academic clients in the plant biotechnology sphere. As Gateway Biotechnology, Inc.’s vice president, Thomas Brutnell is spearheading next-generation research and development for preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus through innovative drug solutions. This approach uses repurposed medications with extensive safety records behind them to quickly move effective treatments to the market.
In October 2019, Gateway Biotechnology announced that it had received US patent number 10,434,097 for the development of tetrandrine (TET), a compound isolated from a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. The patent draws on NIH-funded research that has demonstrated that TET is capable of protecting against more than 80 percent of noise treatment-induced damage.
As the firm’s cofounder and CEO Jianxin Bao, PhD, described it, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any therapeutics against NIHL to-date, which is a major worldwide health issue that can result in tinnitus, or a persistent ringing in the ears. The plan is to rapidly transition TET into clinical studies that can help bring a therapy at the vanguard of science to market.