One Central New York start-up is looking to start human trials on their solution to macular degeneration– a disease that’s a leading cause of vision loss for over 10 million Americans.
Ichor Therapeutics, based in LaFayette, is looking to make a name for itself.
“There’s no reason you can’t do the cutting edge innovation like you would in an urban center in a place like LaFayette and preserve the small town culture at the same time,” said CEO Kelsey Moody.
The small biotech company started out in a Tipperary Hill apartment until Moody won a half a million dollar grant as an Upstate medical student. That’s when Moody relocated to LaFayette.
“We are supported by several early stage investors who liked what we were doing at the level of the living room and said ‘well, what could you do if we put a real research budget behind you?’” Moody said.
Four and a half years later, Ichor has been doubling in size each year and moving into bigger spaces.
SU grad Aaron Wolfe was likely bound for the Silicon Valley after college– until he met Kelsey.
“You can tell somebody all day long you’re an entrepreneur and you have a biotechnology startup and they may think you have a small bench somewhere, but they don’t actually think you have an 8,000 square foot facility,” said Wolfe.
The two say there’s a lot more to building a pharmaceutical company than just the science.
“One of the hidden assets in CNY is there has historically been such a large pharmaceutical presence here so when we started this company we gave the community a shake and all of these retired pharmaceutical folks came out of the wood work,” Moody said.
Ichor prides itself on working faster, cheaper and delivering the same high quality as the leading companies.
Moody says there’s a false perception that biotechnology and pharmaceutical research has to be expensive.
The macular degeneration program makes up about a quarter of their work– they can do it thanks to grants, venture capital and profits from the contract research they do for third parties, whether that’s foundations or other companies or high net worth individuals.