Obatala Sciences, Receives Investment from Healthcare Innovation Fund II

This update is based on an article by Anthony Mcauley, published yesterday on nola.com

Obatala Sciences, a NOBIC client company that helps pharmaceutical companies bring new drugs to market faster than through conventional testing, has received an investment from an Ochsner Health-related investment group aimed at turbocharging its growth.

Obatala said Thursday that it had received “a major financial investment” from the Healthcare Innovation Fund II, whose investors include Ochsner Health, Ochsner Lafayette General, Acadian Companies and the William C. Schumacher Family Foundation. The fund targets investments in firms that have proven their technology and are at a fast-growth stage, and the amount of the investment wasn’t disclosed.

Obatala’s technology offers pharmaceutical companies faster ways to move through the drug testing cycle. Instead of an often laborious, and multi-year process of progressing slowly from tests on cells, to animals, to humans, Obatala has developed a method to model fat outside of the body and use it to predict a human response. The technology, dubbed “fat-on-a-chip,” allows testing on a more diverse range of tissue, which makes the testing process speedier and cheaper.

Researchers can “mimic tissue from patients of varying demographics, including ethnicity and body type,” according to Obatala CEO Dr. Trivia Frazier. “The information coming from this research is providing more insight into how the human body responds to new therapies at an earlier stage of the drug development process…potentially saving companies billions of dollars and years of wasted effort on compounds that are tested in mice that fail in humans each year.”

Frazier, who earned a doctorate in biomedical sciences as well as an MBA from Tulane University, is one of the few Black leaders of a company in the biosciences field. She said Obatala’s technology is speeding up the development of treatments that impact Black communities disproportionately, such as obesity, diabetes and associated co-morbidities.

“Ochsner Health is committed to promoting diversity in research and to advancing the obesity and diabetes care and research,” said innovationOchsner CEO Aimee Quirk, in a statement announcing the investment.

Obatala Sciences spent its first seven years at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, or NOBIC, a start-up” incubator facility on Canal Street, before moving last year to bigger premises at the Advanced Materials Research Institute on University of New Orleans’ campus.

In an earlier interview with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Dr. Frazier noted that “NOBIC helped us with the business side of things. Commercializing technology is a tremendous feat, and that’s something NOBIC can help with as well as establishing key connections.” 

Learn more about Obatala Sciences here: https://www.obatalasciences.com/our-story