THE STATE OF SPINOFFS

By Frank DillerTHE STATE OF SPINOFFSThree different beginnings show the variety of ways to evolve from an idea to a company. In the late 1990s, scientists from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company published many papers and abstracts about neuronal nicotinic receptors (NNRs). Knowing that such receptors respond to nicotine explains why a tobacco company would study them. Moreover, some research indicates that NNRs could play a role in tobacco's toxic effects. For example, bronchial epithelial cells

Frank Diller
Mar 31, 2007

In the late 1990s, scientists from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company published many papers and abstracts about neuronal nicotinic receptors (NNRs). Knowing that such receptors respond to nicotine explains why a tobacco company would study them. Moreover, some research indicates that NNRs could play a role in tobacco's toxic effects. For example, bronchial epithelial cells express NNRs. Nonetheless, NNRs might lead to more than toxicity. Targacept, a spinoff from Reynolds, hopes to put NNRs to healthy purposes.


© LISA KLUMPP

Headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, Targacept started out as a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds. Now on its own, Targacept plans to turn tobacco research into a pharmaceutical pipeline. Moreover, this strategy appears to be working. At the beginning of this year, Targacept started a Phase I trial of its...