Colorado company to sell medical food products based on Wake Forest discovery

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A Colorado-based company is launching a line of "medical- food" products for the dietary management of asthma, eczema and other allergic conditions based on discoveries by Floyd H. "Ski" Chilton, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFUHS).

Chilton's discoveries originally led to the founding of a company called Pilot Therapeutics. Now Pilot Therapeutics and WFUHS have licensed rights to the technology to Efficas Inc. of Boulder, Colo., to allow Efficas to produce and market the therapeutic products, said Michael A. Batalia, Ph.D., director of the Office of Technology Asset Management at Wake Forest.

The EfficasTM Care products are aimed at three health conditions: asthma, eczema and allergy. The Efficas Care line is now available for online purchase.

Research by Chilton, professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, focuses on the role that diet or medical foods play in human disease. As the founder of Pilot Therapeutics, he developed an over-the-counter medical food designed to reduce the production of leukotrienes, substances known to play a significant role in asthma and allergy attacks.

"Through our research and clinical trials, we have learned that allergic individuals have a unique dietary need for two fatty acids, GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)," Chilton said. "Our studies also show that increased consumption of these nutrients can inhibit leukotriene production in patients."

The new products contain a patented formula of marine oil and botanical oil (borage seed oil) that contains the optimal amount and ratio of GLA and EPA.

"The new licensing arrangement between Efficas, WFUHS and Pilot Therapeutics will allow both companies to advance new technology," Batalia said. "Efficas is a well-funded health science and technology development company with the resources to market these new products, and Pilot Therapeutics now can move on to other product developments."

Besides founding Pilot Therapeutics, Chilton is also director of a WFUHS research program studying dietary supplements, one of five in the country. The program is supported by a $7.5 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Office of Dietary Supplements.

The Wake Forest program is a partnership with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and is known as the Wake Forest and Brigham and Women's Program for Botanical Lipids. Botanicals are plant-based dietary ingredients. One of the four main research projects focuses on how borage, marine and echium oils reduce inflammatory messengers that cause diseases such as asthma and arthritis. (Echium oil is a natural vegetable oil rich in short-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that are converted by humans to the fat equivalent of fish oil.)

Efficas, Inc. is a Boulder-based health science and technology development company "committed to developing science-based products for the nutritional management of the immune system both for humans and pets," according to a company news release.

Efficas has received funding from Life Science Partners BioVentures, Burrill and Company, Great Spirit Ventures, Unilever Technology Ventures, JP Morgan Bay Area Equity Fund and Prolog Ventures

"Immune-related conditions affect millions of people and we believe leukotriene-inhibiting technology holds great promise for improved quality of life for these individuals," said Mark Braman, chief executive officer of Efficas.

"Marketing first via the Web allows us to efficiently reach out to the millions of proactive consumers who are seeking information and alternative treatments online," Braman said. "We will follow with specialty and natural retail distribution, then mass retail distribution to make our products more easily accessible to the broader population."

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Media Contacts: Shannon Koontz, shkoontz@wfubmc.edu, or Karen Richardson, krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu, at (336) 716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university's School of Medicine and its other related enterprises including the Piedmont Triad Research Park. The Medical School is ranked 4th in the Southeastern United States in revenues from its licensed intellectual property.


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