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VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. (VSTA) and the Small Molecule

In the challenging world of drug development and production, one of the first factors to be considered is whether a drug will be a small molecule or big molecule drug. Big molecule drugs are often called simply biologics, although other terms are sometimes used for certain types of big molecule drugs. They are therapeutic drugs produced using biological processes, engineered from a living organism, and can be made up of complex proteins, nucleic acids, or even living cells. They’re useful in treating certain types of problems, but also have significant limitations, such as the fact that they can almost never be taken orally. In addition, they can be difficult to manufacture, which in turn can make them very expensive.

Small molecule drugs, on the other hand, can be chemically synthesized and are far easier to produce in volume. Small molecule drugs are the most common type of drug produced, and represent the heart of today’s pharmaceutical industry. Nevertheless, it can still be extremely expensive to research, develop, test, and market a brand new small-molecule drug.  And, because small molecule drugs are such big business, anything that can help improve this process has enormous potential.

VistaGen Therapeutics is a California-based biotech company focused primarily on the use of its proprietary stem cell technology to discover, rescue, and develop novel drug candidates for a wide range of diseases. This process generates new chemical variants of once-promising small molecule drug candidates that pharmaceutical companies have put on hold during preclinical or early clinical trials due to heart or liver toxicity, which is to say that the drugs were effective but had some toxic side effects. Using pluripotent stem cells as the base for their Human Clinical Trials in a Test Tube bioassay platform, VistaGen is able to more efficiently and cost effectively test for toxicity, allowing such drugs to be economically modified and rescued from the shelf.

For additional information, visit the company’s website at

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