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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Cancer research from Texas labs makes its way to the marketplace

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 12th, 2018

Two separate cancer therapies developed at two Texas research institutions are making their way towards commercialization.

Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine have created a method to fight cancer by harnessing a patient’s own immune system, without the use of genetic engineering. The researchers formed the start-up Marker Therapeutics to bring the treatment to patients, and now the company is merging with TapImmune, a Florida-based developer of immunotherapies for cancer.

Under the merger, the researchers will have access to advanced-stage clinical testing of the treatment, bringing it closer to becoming a mainstream therapy for cancer patients. The partnership with TapImmune also includes sponsored research and manufacturing support.

“Entrepreneurial activity has been increasing at Baylor. In Marker’s case, that area of development in cell-based therapy is a hot area, and there is commercial interest,” says Michael Dilling, director of the Baylor Licensing Group, which leads the university’s commercialization efforts.

Meanwhile at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a start-up has been launched to develop a new class of medicines aimed at helping patients with neurodegenerative conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced neuropathy and Alzheimer’s disease.

Magnolia Neurosciences is the product of MD Anderson and the New York-based investment firm Accelerator Life Science Partners. The start-up has already landed $31 million in Series A funding.

“Before, it would have been difficult to get investors, but we have established a good track record and have those connections that are on par with the Stanfords and Harvards of the world,” says Ferran Prat, vice president of strategic industry ventures at MD Anderson.

“Houston is an untapped gem in the life sciences universe,” says David Schubert, chief operating partner at Accelerator Life Science Partners. “There is a lot of great stuff here, which tends to be really early [stage] but driven by powerhouses like MD Anderson, and I am a big believer of what’s going on here.”

Source: TMC News

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