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January 20, 2016

W. Scott Bailey, SAN ANTONIO BUSINESS JOURNAL — Evestra Inc. has pursued a financial game plan centered on collaborative relationships in an effort to continue to build its business, and its latest deal is expected to garner plenty of global attention. The San Antonio-based biotech company has secured new funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance its medical research.

Officials with the foundation, named for the Microsoft co-founder and his wife, contend that there are more than 220 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancies but lack access to contraceptives, as well as voluntary family planning information and services. So the organization has agreed to provide Evestra with new funding to apply its proprietary prodrug platform technology to the development of a product that could lead to long-acting, injectable fertility control for women in underserved regions of the world.

A prodrug is a compound that is inactive until it is inside a human body, where metabolic processes convert it into an active drug. Evestra President and CEO Ze’ev Shaked would not disclose the exact amount of funding the company will receive through the Gates Foundation grant but said it is in the “high six digits.”

“This is huge for a number of reasons,” Shaked told me about the Gates funding. “First of all, the Gates Foundation is known to be very, very stringent. It’s very difficult to get a Gates grant. For us, this validates our technology — especially in the steroidal hormonal area — that we are bringing something new to the table.”

Evestra is engaged in the research and development of innovative women’s health care products — especially those that address unmet medical needs. This Gates grant could lead to other funding support from the foundation.

“They are already aware that we have other things in the pipeline,” said Shaked about the foundation. “We were told that, through their family planning, which is a big division, we will have opportunities to do more work with them.”

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