Orphagen Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held pharmaceutical company, announced today that the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has awarded the company $1.8 million under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to investigate retinoid antagonists as non-hormonal male contraceptives.

Unintended pregnancies account for almost one-half of total pregnancies in the US yearly, costing about $12 billion annually. One factor contributing to unintended pregnancies is the lack of an effective and safe oral, reversible male contraceptive drug. Orphagen offers a promising approach for the reversible suppression of spermatogenesis by targeting retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RARα) with an antagonist.

“Orphagen has a strong platform for nuclear receptor discovery and its technology has allowed us to identify promising antagonists that disrupt spermatogenesis with desirable drug-like properties”, said Dr. Paul Crowe, Director of Biology at Orphagen and Principal Investigator of this grant. Identifying a safe, effective, and reversible male contraceptive would have significant impact in family planning and allow men to share a greater responsibility for contraceptive decisions.

Orphagen is a first-mover in the identification and discovery of small molecule compounds to nuclear receptors. Support from the NICHD is a critical part of the Company’s overall strategy to discover new classes of drugs and commercialize them through partnerships.

About Orphagen: Orphagen discovers drug candidates for potential drug targets from the nuclear receptor family for which small molecule ligands, or potential drug-like molecules, have yet to be identified. Its goal is to identify, characterize, and position a new class of drug so that pre-clinical and clinical development can be initiated with commercial partners. Orphagen successfully partnered its first program for ROR-gamma antagonists with JT Pharma ahead of all competitors in the field. Funding from this partnership and other non-dilutive sources, including federal grants, has allowed Orphagen to advance additional first-in-class drug discovery programs.

For more information, contact: Scott Thacher (858) 481-6191