The vice president of drug development startup Gateway Biotechnology, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri, Thomas Brutnell draws on more than 25 years of experience in plant molecular biology, genetics, and genomics to conduct research into preventing and treating hearing loss. During Thomas Brutnell’s tenure with the company, Gateway Biotechnology was selected to participate in the 2019 MassChallenge Boston.
A prestigious accelerator program, MassChallenge is a network that operates in Boston, Austin, Houston, and Rhode Island, as well as internationally in Mexico, Switzerland, and Israel. Participating startups receive access to coworking space and mentoring, as well as the potential to connect with venture investors. Gateway was among just 9 percent of applicants selected for the program, giving the company a chance to compete for over $1 million in cash prizes.
MassChallenge Boston marks a significant opportunity for Gateway Biotechnology, which has previously received funding from Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology. Gateway Biotechnology was also part of a $10 million Army grant to study hearing loss.
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.
The biotechnology startup received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in July 2020. At $2.2 million, the grant was provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
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.
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.