Meet malaria's worst nightmare
Author: Drug development startup with close ties to PSU Profiled in the Portland Business Journal.
Posted: September 4, 2013

Author: Erik Siemers, @PDXBIZErik

Portland Business Journal

August 30, 2013

Vol. 30, No. 26

Malaria's biggest enemy might be home grown here in Portland.

DesignMedix Inc. is a 5-year old durg-development startup led by Lynnor Stevenson and Sandra Shotwell, a former consulting tandem that once helped the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation navigate the intellectual property landscape around malaria vaccines.

In 2006, they met Portland State University chemistry professor David Peyton, who was working on technology for overcoming resistance to malaria drugs.

Together, they formed DesignMedix and are developing a product they hope could be in human clinical studies by the end of the year.

"The problem with drug resistance," Shotwell said, "is it's gotten worse while we've been working on this."

The technology: DesignMedix is a small-molecule drug development company with a focus on overcoming drug resistance in infectious and other diseases. The company's lead program is a cure for malaria.

Size of the market: The market world-wide for malaria drugs is more that $500 million. The market for antibotics and cancer drugs is several billion dollars.

Closer Look

  • Company name:  DesignMedix Inc.
  • Headquarters: Portland
  • Year founded:    2008
  • Executives:            CEO Lynnor Stevenson and President Sandra Shotwell
  • Employees:                 5
  • Website:

Competition: The company notes there are several drugs on the market for malaria, but says they are becoming less effective as drug resistance rises.

Competitive Advantage: DesignMedix's technology is designed to overcome a key type of drug resistance found in malaria, bacteria, and cancer. DesignMedix's lead malaria drug worked in all patient samples tested.

Managers and their background: CEO Stevenson, Ph.D., has experience leading successful entrepreneurial biotech companies, inlcuding work leading to the development of bone growth factors now approved for sale in the U.S. and Europe. President and Chief Operating Officer Shotwell has experience transferring drug development programs to major pharmaceutical companies. Chief Scientific Officer Peyton, Ph.D., is an analytical and medicinal chemist who has collaborated on numerous drug development programs.

Investors: Oregon Angel Fund, Angel Oregon, Northwest Technology Ventures, Bellingham Angels and individual investors from Oregon and Washington.

Capital raised: $1.2 million Series A in 2009.

Capital sought: $1.5 million Series B offered to accredited investors only, $580,000 closed so far.

Ideal exit: Acquisition by mid-size biotech or major pharmaceutical company.