Hingez Therapeutics, founded by Indian American Salim Shah, gets $1.8 million NIH grant to develop drug


Hingez Therapeutics
In this image, provided by Hingez Therapeutics, MD-generated conformations of PCSK9 protein are clustered to demonstrate movement of flexible loops.

Hingez develops new drug discovery method that will produce drugs “to treat high cholesterol and eventually many other diseases.”

Hingez Therapeutics Inc., founded by Indian American Dr. Salim Shah, has received a grant of more than $1.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop a drug to treat high cholesterol.

The drug could potentially reach human trials within two to three years.

The grant is to develop small molecule inhibitors of an enzyme called PCSK9 — proprotein convertase subtilisin — kexin type 9. The inhibitors are being developed as a pill alternative to the expensive and injectable PCSK9 antibodies, the company said in a press release.

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According to Hingez, which is based in Vienna, VA, such a drug could be globally manufactured with a reasonable price tag, and easily administered as an oral therapeutic. The drug could have the potential to gain a significant share of the cholesterol-lowering drug market, it said.

Salim Shah
Salim Shah

The grant is provided through NIH’s Small Business Innovation Research program, which supports US-owned and operated small businesses on innovative and commercially-promising products to prevent, diagnose, and treat heart, lung, and blood-related diseases and disorders.

“We have developed a revolutionary small molecule drug discovery method that will produce oral medications to treat high cholesterol and eventually many other diseases,” said Shah, who is also the president of Hingez. “I truly believe that we are advancing medical science around the Second Law of Thermodynamics and as such, we are opening new doors to whole new advances in drug discovery and disease treatment.”

Thanking the NIH for the support, Shah said his company is looking forward “to creating collaborations with major pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions to further develop PCSK9 small molecule inhibitors, to targeting others disease causing protein-protein interactions, and to helping millions of Americans suffering from high-cholesterol and other diseases by bringing new drugs to market.”

Shah, who was born in Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh, grew up in Delhi. He earned his bachelor’s degree in science from Delhi University, MSc in biotechnology from Aligarh Muslim University, and MPhil and PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Shah also has a JD from George Mason University, Virginia.

Ahmed A. Hasan, medical officer and program director at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), said the Hingez Therapeutics research “has the potential to be developed as a new drug for the treatment of high-cholesterol and for other new drug discovery opportunities.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 102 adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels that are above healthy levels. Roughly a third in that category is at high risk for heart disease.

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