Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry Announces Second ETF Investment in Halsa Pharmaceuticals

Monday, August 03, 2009  •  Press Release

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today announced the state will invest $750,000 in Halsa Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Houston through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF). This investment follows a $250,000 deal announced in March 2008, and will fund additional development of Halsa’s treatment for obesity and diabetes.

“Obesity continues to threaten more than 10 million Texans’ quality of life, and is closely associated with serious diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer,” Gov. Perry said. “This continued ETF investment will help Halsa further develop their groundbreaking treatment for this disease, and help save lives, prevent further health issues and control medical costs.”

Halsa Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company developing therapeutics for the treatment of obesity, diabetes, cancer cachexia and other metabolic diseases. In Texas, an estimated 28 percent of adults suffer from obesity, and 9 percent suffer from Type II diabetes, which cost the state billions of dollars in direct medical costs and loss of productivity.

“The initial ETF investment was intended to allow Halsa to reach certain milestones, important technical achievements that would indicate appropriate progress in the development of this medicine,” ETF Director Alan Kirchhoff said. “Halsa has shown clear and convincing evidence that these milestones have been attained, and we look seeing the development of this technology.”

“The ETF investment, in combination with capital raised from private investors, has allowed Halsa to move forward on a number of fronts,” Halsa CEO Phil Speros said. “Not only were we able to achieve the technical milestones we set, but we’ve advanced in other important areas such as intellectual property and business development.”

Halsa holds exclusive patent rights to ZAG (Zinc-alpha-2-glycoprotein), a natural material that is expected to cause immediate and substantial depletion of body fat when injected by a physician into an obese patient. The drug may have applications in diabetes treatment as well. Halsa is developing an injectable product using recombinant human ZAG to help restore ZAG levels to normal in patients, which will diminish body fat and the metabolic symptoms of diabetes.  

The ETF is a $200 million initiative created by the Texas Legislature in 2005 at the governor’s request, and reauthorized in 2007 and again this session with $203.5 million for the 2010-2011 biennium. A 17-member advisory committee of high-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and research experts reviews potential projects and recommends funding allocations to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. To date, the ETF has allocated more than $99 million in funds to 78 early stage companies.

For more information on the ETF, please visit

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