A scientist works at NuvOx in Tucson.

Tucson-based drug startup NuvOx Pharma has won FDA approval to launch a Phase II clinical trial of an oxygen-delivery drug in patients with certain brain tumors.

The company also won a $318,000 federal grant to study a related compound to reduce heart-attack damage.

NuvOx, founded by University of Arizona radiologist Dr. Evan Unger, says its leading drug candidate, NVX-108, can deliver oxygen to hypoxic solid brain tumors, making them more susceptible to radiation treatment.

The company also announced it was awarded a $317,743 grant by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to study another drug candidate, NVX-308, in pig models as a way to reduce damage to the heart following a heart attack.

NuvOx also has a product in a Phase Ib/II clinical trial in acute ischemic stroke, and has approval for a Phase Ib clinical trial for complications of sickle-cell anemia.

Unger originally developed the foundational technology for NuvOx, using solutions of tiny gas bubbles, as a contract agent for medical imaging and later adapted the technology to drug delivery.