Respana Therapeutics

Penn State University

Respana Therapeutics is developing a novel antibody therapeutic to treat patients who have an excessive immune response to the influenza virus by mitigating the destructive effects to the lungs and increasing the patients’ survival. Targeting the SP-A receptor, SPR210s on macrophages. Respana’s SP-R210 therapeutic antibody binds to macrophages to block unneeded inflammation and thereby enable the lung to restore lung function by calibrating inflammatory and immune-regulatory functions of macrophages. Ultimately this treatment will improve respiratory gas exchange and clear inflammatory obstruction of the airways.


Tim Pelura, CEO, is a serial life science entrepreneur with over 40 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries and has been pivotal in the development of several new drugs and devices spanning numerous therapeutic areas. Prior to joining Respana, Dr. Pelura was most recently President & CEO of Surpass, a leading translational preclinical CRO located in the Greater Twin Cities area serving the medical device, pharma and biopharma industries. Dr. Pelura successfully sold the Surpass business in March of 2018. Prior to Surpass, Dr. Pelura has enjoyed a long history of growing early/idea stage life science companies through various financing strategies to well-capitalized, successful companies.

Andy Agrawal, Vice President, is a seasoned business executive with more than 30 years of experience, principally in healthcare and technology industries. His transaction experience includes more than 50 M&A transactions and he has worked extensively with venture capital firms and their portfolio companies over the past 20 years. He has also been an entrepreneur, having founded two start-ups and provided interim management and advisory services to a number of early and mid-stage high growth companies.

Michele Washko, COO, has nearly 25 years of experience working for or advising life sciences enterprises of various types and sizes, ranging from startups to the Fortune 100, and has particular expertise in healthcare innovation. Functional areas for which she’s had responsibilities include strategic planning, product commercialization, alliance management, marketing and communications, finance, and startup operations.

Dr. Zissis Chronoes, Cofounder, is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology, Pulmonary Immunology and Physiology Laboratory at Penn State College of Medicine. His long-standing work is on understanding how surfactant proteins and related molecules of the host defense collagen superfamily of proteins modulate inflammation and immunological homeostasis. He is known for the discovery of the surfactant protein A receptor SP-R210 in macrophages in 1996. The receptor has an expanded ligand repertoire that is crucial to understanding the roles that these molecules play in immune responses and disease pathogenesis throughout the body. He determined the molecular identity of SP-R210 in 2005 and validated its function in bacterial phagocytosis of SP-A-opsonized bacteria, leading to recent discoveries that SP-R210 oversees macrophage plasticity to relay and integrate information from diverse immunological stimuli and tissue environments. He further discovered that SP-R210 isoforms mediate homeostatic and compartmental immune functions within and between tissues by resident macrophages and other mononuclear phagocytes. Importantly, SP-R210 isoforms govern the transitional stratification of the immune response and guide the direction of macrophage activation between M1 and M2 macrophage polarization states. Understanding this complexity has allowed Respana to harness the therapeutic potential of SP-R210 isoforms to alleviate detrimental inflammatory excess by the immune system.