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Tonus Therapeutics, a biotech startup company spun off from research conducted by University at Buffalo scientists, has opened a headquarters office in UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Tonus, founded in 2009, seeks to develop a treatment for muscular dystrophy based on a promising protein, known as GsMTx4, found in tarantula venom. The company builds on research conducted by UB biophysicists Frederick Sachs, Thomas Suchyna and Philip Gottlieb, who also are partners in Tonus.

Jeffrey Harvey, a stockbroker who is Tonus’ chief financial officer, is the only employee in the company’s new offices on Ellicott Street, because research work on the potential treatment is contracted out. Harvey moved into the new offices earlier this month and said Tonus is in final negotiations with a group of outside investors to provide funding for the company’s operations.

Tonus’ original name, Rose Pharmaceuticals, was inspired by the Chilean rose tarantula that is the source of the promising protein.

The partners recently changed the name to Tonus – Latin for “muscle tone” – because of trademark concerns over the many companies that have “Rose” in their names, Harvey said.