Licensing & Ventures Group


KeViRx, Inc. Awarded $1.99 Million

D.O.D. grant will advance small molecule technology for acute lung injur

June 11, 2024


LVG Communications

KeViRx, Inc., an innovative, early-stage pharmaceutical company, announced today the receipt of $1.99 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program. This grant funding will allow KeViRx to advance its first-in-class small molecule platform technology, KVX-053, toward IND for pulmonary microvascular leakage and inflammation during acute lung injury (ALI). In the U.S., ALI affects 200,000 patients every year and can result from viral infection, sepsis, pneumonia or inhalation of chemical toxins. The most severe form of ALI is referred to as acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS.

“There are very limited treatment options for patients with ALI and 40% will die of ARDS,” KeViRx Cofounder John S. Lazo said. “KVX-053 is a host-directed, insult-agnostic small molecule that targets the central pathways that are dysfunctional in ARDS. If we are successful, KVX-053 would be transformative for this disease.”

KeViRx’s lead asset, KVX-053, is a first-in-class small molecule inhibitor of the PTP4A3 phosphatase. KVX053 has potent immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects, which repairs and restores damaged endothelial barrier functions. The endothelial barrier in the vasculature ensures the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to tissues and, if damaged, increased vascular permeability results in tissue edema, migration of inflammatory cells and inflammation, leading to respiratory failure.

Elizabeth R. Sharlow, KeViRx, Inc. co-founder and CEO, added: “I am delighted and honored to be awarded these grant funds. This financial support gives KeViRx the opportunity to accelerate the development of KVX-053 for ALI/ARDS and to propel it closer to the clinic. KVX-053 has the potential to make a difference in patients’ lives. We are also excited to continue our research collaboration in ALI with John Catravas, Sentara chair and professor in Old Dominion University’s Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics. John’s expertise in the vascular endothelium and vascular inflammation has been pivotal to moving our KVX-053 technology forward.”

This work is supported by The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs endorsed by the Department of Defense, in the amount of $1.99MM through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program under Award Number HT9425-24-1-0284. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily endorsed by The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs endorsed by the Department of Defense. The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 808 Schreider Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office.

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About KeViRx, Inc.

KeViRx, Inc. ( is a privately held early, pre-clinical stage biotechnology company founded in 2016 and headquartered in Charlottesville, VA. A resident of the Johnson & Johnson JLABS incubator in Washington D.C., KeViRx is commercializing technology licensed from the University of Virginia’s Licensing & Ventures Group. KeViRx is developing small molecules drugs that treat microvascular leakage and inflammation, pathologies that are the basis for many diseases, including cancer and respiratory diseases, such as ALI. KeViRx’s small molecule drugs target the PTP4A3 phosphatase, regulator of endothelial barrier function.