BRF advances business, bioscience in Northwestern Louisiana

Shreveport incubator BRF limited itself to biomedical research when it was founded in 1986 and tagged as the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana.

That was then.

Since, BRF has transformed to become a diverse business incubator that helps fuel the economy of Shreveport and surrounding areas.

It was in 2013 that the economic development organization spread its wings, and the focus became much greater than just biomedicine. BRF transformed to become a diverse business incubator aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and recruiting new businesses.

For example, BRF’s body of work includes the Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy that is currently expanding its footprint with a new 20,000 sq. ft. facility.

The center specializes in the production and distribution of radiopharmaceuticals, translational research and clinical imaging. The manufacturing of radiopharmaceuticals at CMIT helps diagnose and treat a number of different diseases, with a recent focus on oncology, neurology and cardiology therapies.

The new $14.2 million state-of-the-art facility will expand CMIT’s capabilities to include applications in prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, hyperinsulinism and pancreatic cancer.

CMIT’s growth is evident, but startups are a big part of the BRF project.

BRF’s Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program, founded in 2014, makes fledgling ideas become a reality. EAP serves as a one-stop-shop for business plans, market and financial analysis and access to funding.

One of EAP’s most recent success stories is Oleolive, which extracts oleocanthal from extra virgin olive oil in order to provide potentially preventative and therapeutic treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and a particular form of breast cancer.

Oleolive was formed when researchers at the University of Louisiana at Monroe made a surprising discovery and local entrepreneurs seized on the opportunity to bring a new compound to market. The researchers at ULM’s School of Pharmacy found that extracting oleocanthal from extra virgin olive oil showed it could be a novel preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Oleolive was formed shortly after with the goal of making oleocanthal commercially available for the first time so that its preventative and therapeutic qualities can be taken advantage of. They have received two grants from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Aging to research the compound’s effects on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

However, the potential doesn’t stop with Alzheimer’s. Oleocanthal and the other EVOO phenols have shown tremendous promise on many levels – from anti-aging (oleocanthal is a strong antioxidant) to the natural non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-like qualities oleocanthal possesses. Research has also demonstrated that oleocanthal acts as a potent anti-cancer agent in triple-negative breast cancer, which currently has limited therapeutic options.

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