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aTyr Pharma Honored with Red Herring 100 North America Award for Discovering and Developing Innovative Medicines Based on Physiocrine Biology

SAN DIEGO, June 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- aTyr Pharma, an innovative protein therapeutics company, announced today that Red Herring has named the company as a winner of the 2011 Red Herring 100 North America Award, a prestigious list honoring the year's most promising private companies. aTyr was recognized for its leadership and innovation in the discovery of Physiocrines and development of Physiocrine-based medicines. Physiocrines are naturally occurring human proteins that possess novel in vivo biological activity as extracellular signaling molecules in known pathways relevant to developing protein therapeutics for a range of diseases.

Dr. John Mendlein, executive chairman of aTyr Pharma, said, "Physiocrine protein pathways represent important new therapeutic intervention points for drug discovery.  aTyr is uncovering the role of Physiocrines from an ancient gene family in modulating human physiology and intervening in disease to develop life-changing medicines for patients with grave conditions."

Physiocrines are a recently elucidated class of endogenous human proteins from amino acyl tRNA synthetases that function as extracellular signaling molecules in a variety of physiologic settings.   As either therapeutic proteins or as targets for antibodies, Physiocrines have the potential to address a wide range of diseases, including high unmet patient needs in blood, immune, and metabolism disorders.

"Choosing the companies with the strongest potential was by no means a small feat," said Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring. "After rigorous contemplation and discussion, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of candidates from across North America to the Top 100 Winners. We believe aTyr Pharma embodies the vision, drive and innovation that define a successful entrepreneurial venture." 

Red Herring 100 North America list has become a mark of distinction for identifying promising new companies and entrepreneurs. The Red Herring 100 winners are evaluated on both quantitative and qualitative criteria, such as technology innovation, quality of management and execution of strategy into their respective industries. Red Herring editors were among the first to recognize that companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Skype, YouTube and eBay would change the way we live and work.

"This award recognizes that the development of Physiocrine-based protein therapeutics is distinct from current protein therapeutic programs," said Dr. Jeff Watkins, CEO of aTyr Pharma. "aTyr possesses a unique opportunity to advance new therapeutic applications from novel mechanisms for the development of innovative, high-impact biologics."

About aTyr Pharma

aTyr Pharma develops biologic therapeutics based on Physiocrines and amino acyl tRNA synthetases and is currently focusing on developing products for hematologic and immune indications. aTyr has established a dominant intellectual property estate surrounding Physiocrine-based compositions and potential therapeutic applications. The company's lead program, Tmax, is in preclinical development. The privately held biotech was founded by Scripps Research Institute Professor Paul Schimmel, a leading amino acyl tRNA synthetase scientist, and is backed by leading life sciences investors Alta Partners, Cardinal Partners, Domain Associates and Polaris Ventures. For more information, please visit

SOURCE aTyr Pharma
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