Richard Austin is the CEO of Reglagene, a therapeutics company developing brain-penetrating medicines to make breakthroughs in brain cancer treatments. In Today’s “How Did You Do It?” we sat down with Richard to learn how he was able to grow Reglagene for just 10% of the typical cost.

TCA: What is Reglagene?

RA: At Reglagene, we’re good at designing and developing therapies that penetrate the brain. We crack the nut that a lot of other scientists have tried to crack. We’ve designed and developed a brand new type of tubulin-targeting therapy that easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier for the treatment of brain cancers.

TCA: How Does It Work?

RA: Every one of us has a blood-brain barrier that acts as a filter to prevent toxins from entering our brains. In the case of brain disease patients, it can also prevent the entry of what might otherwise be an effective therapy. We’ve designed a drug molecule that is capable of being ingested orally, being absorbed through the gut, and getting past the liver into the bloodstream. It circulates, hitting that blood-brain barrier, and passively navigates the barrier. 

TCA: How were you able to enter preclinical development at 10% of the cost?

RA: We utilize lab space and equipment. This access is on-demand such that we only pay for what we use. In this way, we avoid capital and maintenance costs as we evaluate all the drug prototypes we design and manufacture. We’ve done this on a $6 million budget, which is a really low number for this business. I know other companies in tech and medicine that took $60 million to do what we’ve done on $6 million. We can do it for a lower dollar than what normally goes on because our cost basis is smaller here.

RA: I’ve been in the pharmaceutical R&D business for over 30 years and have a large network of friends. What paid off for us was that I was able to access my friend network and bring on our first employees, taking equity in the company instead of cash. I have scientific advisors who are working only for equity in my company. Leveraging those friendships is part of why we do things so cost-effectively. The labor component is much smaller than it would be if we were paying full fair market wages. Once we do the big raise, which we’re working on venture capital now, we’ll move everyone closer to a market wage.

RA: We’ve also integrated the best drug development services from around the globe into our product development process. In this way, we run an efficient preclinical development machine.

TCA: What advice do you have for new med tech or drug development companies?

RA: The number one thing I would say is to make double sure your technology works early in the process of starting your company. The second is to acknowledge your own gaps and surround yourself with talent that illuminates your blind spots. 

RA: Get the right people in the right seats on the bus, and set them up for success. Access capital early so that you have the resources to do what you need to do. And set the right culture so that you can effectively work together to achieve a common goal. 

The views, information, or opinions expressed during the interview series is solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Tech Coast Angels and its employees, consultants and interns. Tech Coast Angels is not responsible and does not verify for accuracy any of the information contained in the podcast series available for listening on this site. The primary purpose of this interview series is to inform. This Interview series does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.