Giving the flu his best shot

Emergo CEO Moise Khayrallah cultivates successful pharma and biotech startups and creates opportunities for other promising entrepreneurs

The scratchiness in your throat: Is it allergies, the beginnings of a cold, or worse yet, the actual flu taking hold? For the millions of Americans who fall ill to the flu annually – and the 200,000 people who find themselves hospitalized from its effects – the illness can range from miserable to deadly. Yet one local pharmaceutical company with ties to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is working on a way to squelch the nasty and dangerous symptoms that too many people know all too well.

With the idea to use the immune system to help fight infections and other diseases, Emergo Therapeutics is developing a drug for treating the flu and flu-like illnesses. The idea was conceived when the scientific founder of the company, Robin Hyde-DeRuyscher, was treating his daughter for a collection of symptoms that did not make any sense. He wanted to use a drug that is approved and used in Europe to treat asthma, thinking the drug might also work for the flu.

Hyde-DeRuyscher connected with serial entrepreneur and UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Moise Khayrallah in 2016, and they began working to become more familiar with the science behind the idea. Although Khayrallah was practically retired, he decided to join the company as CEO. As a serial entrepreneur, he saw the potential for success.

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