Proteon founders set out to build spin-out engine

Dr. Nicholas Franano and William Whitaker, two founders of Proteon Therapeutics, have founded a new biotech company with an eye to spinning off new developers as they identify promising new drugs.

Novita Therapeutics will develop new drugs and devices for cardiovascular, renal and gastrointestinal diseases, they tell the Kansas City Business Journal. But instead of building a pipeline of new drugs, they want to spin off the most promising discoveries into new companies that can give the programs the "singular focus" needed. "Once a small company gets a really good product, then all of the money and energy and time gets focused on the lead product, and that hampers innovation," says Franano.

Franano and Whitaker left their jobs at Proteon Oct. 31. Back in March, Novartis acquired an option to buy the Waltham, MA-based developer for $550 million. The Kansas Bioscience Authority says the new company may fit in with its plans to invest $50 million in eight VC outfits looking to build biotech companies in the state.

- here's the report from the Kansas City Business Journal