Azitra wins $225K grant to study skin ailment

BY Matt Pilon

Farmington's Azitra says it won a $225,000 federal research grant to funds its pursuit of a treatment for a severe and extremely rare skin disease.

Azitra is developing a skin microbiome therapeutic called AZT-02 to treat "Netherton Syndrome," a genetic disorder that affects one in 200,000 newborns. The disorder affects skin, hair and the immune system, causing red scaly skin and raising the risk for dehydration and sepsis.

Sufferers lack a key skin protein, called "LEKTI," which helps maintain skin cells' structures.

Using the Small Business Innovation Research funds, Azitra and Jackson Laboratory researchers in Farmington are collaborating to show in a preclinical model that AZT-02 -- a proprietary strain of a bacterium normally found in the skin -- can secrete functional LEKTI protein.

The SBIR grant comes on the heels of Azitra's $2.1 million fundraise in May.