You may have heard that the Arkansas Development Finance Authority has invested in vaccines to help animals, but did you realize its money is also behind a quest to stop dysentery in people worldwide?
Last August, ADFA was part of a $10 million equity finance offering by Pacific GeneTech, which is building a world headquarters in Springdale. Other new investors last summer were FHB Ventures of Rogers and Simmons Foods of Siloam Springs.
PGT Executive Director Louis Bowen told Whispers last week that his vaccine company isn’t restricting its research to benefiting poultry, swine, ruminants and fish.
“The diseases that we’re addressing are zoonotic diseases, diseases that are common between animals and humans,” said Bowen, a world traveler who is also chairman and CEO of Asia Capital Management Ltd., a private investment banking company based in Hong Kong that he founded in 1994.
“We are collecting what is effectively preclinical data for potential human application. And so we now have a program which we have formalized and put into a subsidiary company called PGTx,” he said. “That is our human vaccine development program.”
The first candidate is a human dysentery vaccine, Bowen said.
“There are no vaccines in the market that effectively deal with the multiple causes of dysentery. … So we’re in the market talking to people who don’t necessarily have an interest in animal health, but they certainly have an interest in seeing a vaccine developed for a disease that kills about 500,000 people a year, about a third of which are children, and a third of which are people over 65.”
A member of the Board of Advisors to the Arkansas World Trade Center, Bowen said dysentery is a “predominant problem” in the developing world.
“It’s not a particular problem in North America or Europe, other than for travelers who go from there to those other areas. But still, there’s a huge need for this. And we want to bring it to market.”
Other PGT investors include Whist Subholdings of Hong Kong and PT Medion of Indonesia.