Headed to the Pipeline: Louisiana Biotech Poised for Breakout Year

Louisiana’s 2024 biotech landscape will be marked by growth, collaborative partnerships and product launches. That’s according to a recent survey of Louisiana researchers, physicians and CEOs, who point to secured funding and federal-level approvals that will drive the year’s success as well.

2024’s growth will see expansions to scale operations and enhanced use of innovative technologies to personalize treatment. Key partnerships and collaborations will include further work toward a nationally recognized center for cancer research. As far as commercialization, a number of the state’s entities are working towards product launches with a strategic approach to global market expansion.

From neuroscience and cancer to advanced imaging and obesity treatments, Louisiana’s life science entities are set to collectively contribute to shaping healthcare outcomes in the state and beyond in 2024.


Dr. Lowry Curley, Co-founder and CEO
New Orleans

I’m excited to continue the integration of our new team and facilities in Minnesota. The two locations and additional scientific team members allow for continued scaling and growth of our cutting-edge neuroscience platforms.

We will be launching a Series B fundraiser in 2024, focused on driving AxoSim’s growth. This will focus on everything we need to scale, starting with facilities and technology automation. We will also continue to build out our business development organization and expand our commercial portfolio through partnerships and collaborations. Last, we want to focus on expanding our technical resources through new platforms and capabilities as well as expertise. 


BioInfo Experts
Susanna Lamers, CEO and Founder

September 2023 was an exciting month for BioInfo Experts, as we received FDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding to advance next-generation pathogen sequencing for the adeno-associated viral vector manufacturing industry. One week later, the Biomedical Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), awarded us a three-year purchase order to assist with genomic sequencing of SARS-Cov2 genomic variants in support of the Project Next Gen program, which aims to accelerate and diversify vaccine and therapeutics products through clinical trials for future commercial availability. These important projects provide sustainability, highlight our advanced data security systems, expand our AWS footprint and software capabilities, and will lead to additional growth in related industries. We are especially proud of these achievements, and celebrate that these projects bring significant federal revenue to south Louisiana, a region severely impacted by hurricanes and the pandemic. 

Other exciting news in south Louisiana is the forthcoming new Bayou Region Business Incubator which will open in January 2024. As a board member, I hope my experience growing a successful biotech company in Louisiana can inspire other new STEM-related businesses in the region. 


Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy 
Dr. Stephen Lokitz, Interim Executive Director

BRF’s Center for Molecular Imaging and Therapy (CMIT) plans to begin manufacturing 18F-FDG at its new facility in 2024 and will begin the development, manufacturing and introduction of additional non-FDG radiopharmaceuticals. CMIT’s state-of-the-art facility was envisioned to combine manufacturing, research and clinical activities under one roof. Completion of this transition is planned for the coming year. 

Additionally, CMIT will acquire and install a new PET/CT scanner, which will provide cutting-edge clinical imaging and advanced capabilities necessary for research activities.  

CMIT is hiring for several new positions that have been created due to the expansion of the program, with the most critical being the Director of Research, which will lead CMIT’s research program. This program will entail basic science laboratories, a microimaging laboratory, a radiochemistry laboratory, radiopharmaceutical manufacturing and translational imaging to become a one-stop shop for radiopharmaceutical research and development.  


Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine
Dr. Savanah Newell, Discipline Chair for Anatomical Sciences

The year 2024 is certainly shaping up to be a milestone year in the life of not only the VCOM-Louisiana campus, but also the state of Louisiana. In May, we will graduate our very first class of osteopathic physicians in the first osteopathic graduation ceremony in the history of the state. These brand-new physicians will then enter a variety of residencies, the majority of which will likely be in primary care specialties, if trends continue from other VCOM campuses.  We anticipate that many of these students will return to Louisiana and the Delta region to practice medicine after attending residency.  Historically, VCOM graduates have been the driving force behind significant changes in access to healthcare in the same areas where they received their education.


Life Recovery Systems
Matt Center, CEO

In 2024, we will begin the randomized portion of our rapid cooling stroke patients with the ThermoSuit study. The completion of this study should clear the way for FDA approval of rapid cooling with the ThermoSuit in stroke patients. 


Louisiana Cancer Research Center
Dr. Joe Ramos, Director and CEO
New Orleans

The real work begins now that we have statewide alignment and an agreed-upon path forward for an NCI Designation application. We are still a few years from filing our initial application, but the people of Louisiana will benefit from the work it will take to get there.


LSU Health New Orleans
New Orleans
Dr. Steve Nelson, Interim Chancellor

Our most exciting initiative in 2024 will be our laser-focused efforts to accelerate attainment of the first National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center in Louisiana.  Recently, LSU Health New Orleans joined with LCMC Health, Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC) and Tulane to align our common efforts around the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer for all our citizens, and to designate LSU Health New Orleans as the applicant institution for NCI designation. LSU Health New Orleans and LCMC Health previously had each committed $50 million to the LSU Health-LCMC Health Cancer Center; collectively, now, the partners expect even more philanthropic, corporate, state and federal support to expand cancer-focused research and multidisciplinary care programs, address critical health disparities in our population and support Louisiana’s journey to NCI designation.


Obatala Sciences
Dr. Trivia Frazier, President, CEO and Co-Founder
New Orleans

Looking ahead, we are most excited about our upcoming partnerships, and we are thrilled about the upcoming launch of our newly commercialized ObaCell® Obesity-on-a-Chip technology that will be offered initially as a service to customers who are looking to test the toxicity, safety, and efficacy of their therapies targeting obesity and diabetes. This technology will bring tremendous value to our product and services portfolio, and we are excited  to expand our existing partnerships with large pharma and explore new partnerships globally. This is ever so crucial, given the surge in weight loss therapies in an effort to combat the growing obesity epidemic and its impact on the world. 


Kiley Grant, CEO

With 2023 having been a breakout year for us, 2024 is primed to be a year of explosive growth and exciting research outcomes. We have dozens of independent research contracts that will begin to produce findings in the first half of 2024, incredible opportunities to take on new projects, a fast-growing product that is generating consequential revenue and a built-out team that is starting to get their feet underneath them. 

However, there is a black cloud hanging over us that many in the industry are experiencing, and that is the new rules in Section 174 of the tax code that change how R&D companies amortize R&D expenditures. In essence, under the new rule, we will have to amortize our research expenditures over five years instead of in the year they were incurred. We don’t have a full grasp on how this is going to affect us, and whether it will stifle the rate at which we can expend funds on R&D. It is a big unknown that we feel could have a big impact. 

That said, we are aware of our exposure to the new rules and have spent the bulk of 2023 developing a sustainable revenue generation machine that is independent of R&D so that we can mitigate our exposure to the rules. We plan to grow in 2024 by whatever means necessary and hope to have a real economic impact in our region by continuing to hire people with advanced degrees to perform impactful disease research. 


Pennington Biomedical Research Center
Dr. John Kirwan, Executive Director
Baton Rouge

Our research is at the international forefront of breakthroughs in health and wellness, delivering solutions from cells to society. Pennington Biomedical researchers continue their work to discover more about the triggers of obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.

It is important to know that obesity is a disease that affects over 115 million Americans and is linked to more than a dozen forms of cancer, as well as many chronic diseases. Every community across the country is impacted by obesity. The good news is that treatments like those researched and developed at Pennington Biomedical are available. 

Treatment of obesity depends on disease severity. Available options include lifestyle interventions such as diet and physical activity, medications and surgery for the more severe cases. One of Pennington Biomedical’s own, Dr. Amanda Staiano, served on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ national committee to create the clinical practice guidelines on evaluation and treatment of children and adolescents with obesity released earlier this year. 

The biggest scientific advancement in this area in recent years has been the availability of new weight-loss medications, most of which have gone through clinical trials here at Pennington Biomedical. We anticipate more of those medications to become available in the near future, and when managed under a physician’s supervision, they can be life-changing for many people living with obesity. 

An important concern surrounding these drugs, however, is making sure that access is there for people who need them the most. We need increased access and availability, while also keeping the treatments affordable. Pennington Biomedical is grateful to Louisiana’s congressional leaders, who are supportive of this research. Senate Bill 2407, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., and pending in Congress, seeks coverage under Medicare Part D for FDA-approved medications to treat obesity.


South Rampart Pharma
Dr. Hernan Bazan, CEO
New Orleans

As we step into 2024, we are keenly focused on continuing the clinical development for SRP-001 with the right partnerships. We are also working hard on a high-impact paper in the highly peer-reviewed journal “Nature,” describing the mechanisms for pain relief. Moreover, we are closely monitoring NIH funding trends, as they could significantly impact the landscape for novel analgesic development. Our goal for 2024 is to continue leading in the development of safer, more effective pain management solutions, leveraging our strong IP portfolio and research capabilities.


Tides Medical
Joe Spell, CEO

There are nearly 4 million people in the U.S. suffering from difficult-to-heal, chronic wounds. When left untreated, these wounds can lead to life-altering, even deadly consequences like limb amputations, which occur every 20 seconds. The big picture in wound care is that we need to treat these wounds before they cause life-threatening amputations. Lower limb amputations have a five-year prognosis as deadly as pancreatic or lung cancers.  

Tides Medical’s purpose is to lessen the societal impact of chronic wounds and we look forward to doing so in 2024 with not one, but two advancements in wound care treatments. Wound care as an industry has not been incredibly innovative in the last several years. We’re poised to change that with our R&D team, which is planning to release new amniotic products that will further our mission in revolutionizing access to regenerative medicine.  

Additionally, we are excited for a new partnership with an innovative regenerative medicine platform that uses AI, a 3D printer and a patient’s own tissue to produce a graft. Once considered a futuristic ideal, personalized medicine is now here, and we’re going to be one of the first to realize the potential of treating a patient with their own adipose tissue. 

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