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UAB Biotech Startup, Reliant Glycosciences, Enables Treatment for IgA Nephropathy
Birmingham, AL / October 2021– Reliant Glycosciences, LLC (Reliant) is pleased to report its successful completion of a $200,000 Phase I SBIR Grant from the NIH. This grant has enabled Reliant to initiate the process of translating their proprietary biomarker tests for a kidney disease, IgA nephropathy (IgAN), to the clinical setting. Biomarkers are biological molecules in blood or tissues that can indicate normal or abnormal processes or a specific disease. Since its spin-off from UAB at the recommendation of Dr. Selwyn Vickers, Dean of the UAB Heersink School of Medicine, Reliant’s initial focus has been to provide measurements of potential disease-specific biomarkers for ongoing IgAN clinical trials.
The Reliant team
Reliant was formed in 2016 with the mission of enabling development of transformative and targeted treatments for IgAN by providing a means to characterize disease-specific biomarkers. The biotechnology company, located in Birmingham, AL, focuses on developing diagnostic and prognostic tools for patients with IgAN. IgAN, one of the most common forms of glomerulonephritis in the world, affects more than 150,000 Americans and is even more prevalent in other countries. Glomerulonephritides are diseases that injure glomeruli, the part of the kidney that filters waste products from the blood. Several of the Reliant founders helped define IgAN as an autoimmune disease wherein kidneys are injured as innocent bystanders.
The company was founded by Drs. Bruce Julian, Jan Novak, Matt Renfrow, Will Placzek, and Dana Risk as a spinout company from UAB. The founders serve on the advisory board for the company. The company has taken advantage of the Discovery BioMed incubator headed by Dr. Erik Schwiebert, an established biotech entrepreneur in the Birmingham area. The company now has one full-time scientist and one full-time administrative employee. Janusz Tucholski, Ph.D. is the Lead Scientist at Reliant and served as the PI on the Phase I SBIR grant. He received his Ph.D. in 1996 from the University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland in Biochemistry. Dr. Tucholski guides and leads IgAN biomarker assays for Reliant. Tatum Street, MBA is the Communications Manager at Reliant. She received her MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and is the team’s most recent hire, focusing on the internal and external communications of the company.
As stated by one of the founders, Matt Renfrow, “Reliant Glycosciences started with the goal of getting the IgA nephropathy biomarker assays developed in Dr. Novak’s laboratory out to the market for wider use. The UAB Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship helped us make that happen through the licensing agreement and by becoming partners with us in the endeavor. We have a working team of experts, advisors, and scientists in the company that have successfully made these assays available for use by biopharmaceutical companies. The ultimate goal is to get these assays into nephrologists’ hands so they can monitor and better treat patients with IgA nephropathy.”
To learn more about Reliant Glycosciences, see their website at
Written by: Tatum Street
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