Hypogen, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel diagnostic tests and new therapeutics for essential hypertension. Hypertension is the worlds most prevalent disease, affecting more than 25 percent of the population, and continues to be a leading cause of morbidity and mortality.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that more than 30 percent of Americans with hypertension are unaware that they have high blood pressure, and less than 25 percent of those with hypertension actually have their condition controlled by prescription medications. As a result, it is estimated that more that 50 million people in the United States alone stand to benefit from improved diagnostic methods and more effective therapies. Hypogens mission is to meet this need.
Hypogen has discovered and characterized a proprietary set of gene polymorphisms that it believes are largely responsible for the pathogenesis of essential hypertension and salt sensitivity. These single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), by themselves or via an interaction with genes controlling the renin-angiotensin system, have a strong positive association with essential hypertension across racial and ethnic subpopulations, including Ghanaians, Caucasian Americans, Japanese, and Italians.
Furthermore, Hypogen has successfully isolated and immortalized human cells expressing the GRK4 gene variants, as well as expressed the genes both in vitro (i.e., in transfected cells) and in vivo (creating the first transgenic hypertensive mouse model expressing specific genes that cause these mice to become either hypertensive or salt sensitive). These novel drug discovery tools promise to eliminate two of the primary bottlenecks in the search for new antihypertensive drugs.
Armed with the knowledge of the specific mechanisms responsible for the disease, Hypogens first objective is to provide the clinical and research communities with a more accurate method for diagnosing essential hypertension. As currently practiced, diagnosis is often difficult, particularly for early-stage and borderline essential hypertension, due to the multifactorial and polygenic nature of the disease. To overcome this problem, Hypogen has developed a proprietary diagnostic test that provides over 70 percent prediction of the hypertensive phenotype, a rate significantly better than competing tests.
Hypogens second objective is to use its unique drug discovery tools to identify novel drug targets to treat the underlying cause of hypertension without the side effects associated with existing therapies. The Companys first discovery is an antisense technology that has the possibility of becoming an antihypertensive medication in humans. Early research has demonstrated that this target compound prevents the onset of high blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats, and corrects the sodium transport defect found in human cells. The Company also plans to construct a high-throughput screening laboratory to expedite the search for other potential antihypertensive drugs that target its proprietary SNPs.
Hypogen was co-founded by Dr. Robin Felder and Dr. Pedro Jose in 2002 and is headquartered in Charlottesville, VA, adjacent to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Research and development activities are conducted in Charlottesville, VA, and in Washington, DC, at the Georgetown University Medical Center. As a result, the Company is strategically located to take advantage of the knowledge and resources at both the University of Virginia and Georgetown University, and to benefit from the concentration of public and private biotechnology resources in the greater Washington, DC, metropolitan area.
Robin Felder, Ph.D., President and CEO
Dr. Felder co-founded Hypogen and currently serves the President and CEO. Dr. Felder is also the Associate Director of Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology, the Director of the Medical Automation Research Center, and a Professor of Pathology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. He is also a Visiting Professor of Pathology at the Johns Hopkins University and a Fellow of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research (a council of leading hypertension researchers elected by the American Heart Association).
In addition to his academic career, Dr. Felder has founded and managed several private ventures spun out from the University of Virginia. Prior to his involvement in Hypogen, he co-founded Medical Automation Systems, Inc. (a medical IT company with product in over 150 hospitals), BIOPHILE, Inc. (a company that sells specimen management hardware and software), and Global Cell Solutions (a biotech cell product company) where he continues to serve as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Felder also founded the non-profit Association for Laboratory Automation and served as its President and Chair of its Board of Directors. In addition, Dr. Felder serves on the scientific advisory boards of several privately-held medical technology companies, including Genetic Diagnostics, Inc. (Toronto, Canada), Guidance Interactive Technologies (Delano, Minnesota), and BSI Proteomics (Gaithersburg, Maryland).
Dr. Felder has published over 150 basic and clinical research articles, numerous chapters and reviews, and has been awarded 10 patents. He was also Founder and Editor of the Journal of the Association for Laboratory Automation (JALA) and was a member of the editorial boards of Clinical and Experimental Hypertension, Laboratory Information Management, Advance News for Administrators of the Laboratory, and Clinica Chimica Acta. He has received awards such as the Fogarty International Fellowship, the Young Clinical Investigator Award from the Association for Clinical Scientists, and the Young Investigator Award from both the American Federation for Clinical Research and the American Physiological Society. Dr. Felder received his B.S. in Chemistry at the College of William and Mary and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Georgetown University.
Pedro A. Jose, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer
Dr. Jose co-founded Hypogen and serves as its Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Jose is Vice-Chair of Pediatrics and a Professor of Pediatrics and Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and a visiting professor at Sun Yatsen University Medial School, China.
Dr. Jose is a Fellow of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research at the American Heart Association and is one of the first hypertension specialists certified by the American Society of Hypertension. He is also certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and Sub-Board of Pediatric Nephrology. He has served in numerous leadership positions in the scientific community (e.g., American Society of Nephrology), voluntary organizations (e.g., the National Kidney Foundation and the American Heart Association) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has also served as president of the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology. Dr. Joses research has been supported by the National Kidney Foundation, American Heart Association and the NIH (specifically the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases; and the National Center for Research Resources).
Dr. Jose has published more than 175 scientific articles and is a member of the editorial board of several scientific publications, including the journal Hypertension. He has received several awards, including the William Peck Memorial Award for Research in Kidney Diseases; Deans Prize for Biomedical Research in a Clinical Department, Georgetown University; Erica Bruck Clinical Lectureship, Childrens Hospital of Buffalo (Buffalo, New York); and the Apolinario Mabini Award, Association of Philippine Physicians in America. Dr. Jose received his M.D. with honors (magna cum laude) from the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines, and his Ph.D. in Physiology from Georgetown University.
Hypogen is actively recruiting a world-class team of scientific advisors to assist the Company with product research, development, and marketing. Current members include:
Gilbert M. Eisner, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Eisner has a private medial practice in Washington, DC, and is certified by the American Society of Hypertension as a specialist in hypertension. Dr. Eisner received his M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine.
Scott M. Williams, PhD., Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Dr. Williams is a biostatistician and has published numerous papers involving statistical analyses of gene variants related to disease, including hypertension.