Medical startup to locate in KU’s biosciences incubator

A startup company that works to make painkillers have fewer side effects has signed a deal to locate in Kansas University’s biosciences incubator.

Mencuro Therapeutics Inc. has agreed to move into the Bioscience and Technology Business Center Expansion Facility near Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive. The company uses research developed by KU researcher Tom Prisinzano and Laura Bohn, a neuroscientist at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida. That pair teamed up with colleagues Robert Karr and Randy Weiss to launch the company earlier this year. The startup is hiring one full-time biologist immediately and plans to hire additional scientists within the next year.

The company’s focus is on how to make painkillers similar to morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone, but without harsh side effects.

“We’re trying to take the strongest, most potent painkillers and eliminate the side effects so they’re more like Advil or Tylenol,” Prisinzano said.

Mencuro becomes the 11th tenant for the 14-month old incubator system. The incubator houses nine tenants at its main facility on West Campus and two at its expansion facility at Bob Billings and Wakarusa Drive. The incubator is a partnership among KU, the city, the county, the chamber, the local bioscience authority and the state bioscience authority. The strong amount of tenant activity has led to expansion plans for the incubator. The city has put $500,000 in its 2012 budget to kickstart an effort to build more space on West Campus. The project likely will take $7 million to $8 million to complete.

By Chad Lawhorn

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