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Leo Otterbein

Dr. Otterbein’s goal is to study carbon monoxide (CO) as a powerful innate defense molecule that regulates tissue cytoprotection and homeostasis. CO is generated endogenously by the enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1, Hmox1) as a stress response and influences cell proliferation and survival. Absence of HO-1 places the cell and animal at a distinct disadvantage with an astonishing sensitivity to increased morbidity and mortality in numerous pathophysiological situations including cancer. Administration of exogenous CO gas to HO-1 deficient animals rescues and effectively substituting for the absence of HO-1. Inhaled gas however, poses safety and technical challenges and thus development of alternative modes of delivering CO is essential. Remarkably, HBI-002, an oral formulation of CO has been shown to impart identical effects with that observed with CO gas. I bring academic and biotech experience in small molecule pharmacology and >18 years of unmatched insight and understanding of how CO functions in clinically relevant settings. The data my colleagues and I have generated in multiple preclinical models has led to the initiation of multiple phase II clinical trials and thus results from these studies may have immediate impact. We recently reported that CO is potently neuroprotective in models of stroke and traumatic brain injury. Importantly, HBI-002 is an enabling technology to safely and reliably deliver CO to NFL players either before play (game or practice) to protect the brain as well as after playing to treat therapeutically. CO imparts powerful anti-inflammatory and cellular preservation effects and can even promote tissue regeneration. Given that CO is a known neurotransmitter supports its role in optimal brain performance.