Texas’ cancer-fighting agency, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), is funding three Dallas-Fort Worth area startups with $3 million each to help turn their medical research into commercially viable products. The companies include Barricade Therapeutics Corp. (Fort Worth), Dialectic Therapeutics Inc. (Dallas), and Texas Magnetic Imaging Technology Inc. (Dallas). Texas also continues its raids for top oncologists on other major academic medical centers.
A $3 Billion Cancer Investment Fund
These grants are just the latest in $21 million worth of drug discovery and development financings made available by CPRIT. Created by Texas state legislature, voters approved an additional $3 billion investment for cancer research and prevention last fall 2019, adding to an earlier $3 billion commitment. The agency thus far has distributed $2.49 billion in grants to Texas-based research institutions, reports the Dallas Morning News. TrialSite News has discussed CPRIT in past articles.
CPRIT recently awarded $1.137 million to a renowned muscle disease investigator, Eric Olson, at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to support his ongoing work—targeting therapies for a soft tissue tumor in children and adolescents—as well as another $5.4 million to six other research endeavors at the Dallas hospital. For example, two cancer researchers will receive a combined $1.8 million. Moreover, UT Southwestern will receive $2 million to recruit Adam Durbin from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the ongoing major academic medical center “war for oncologist talent.”
Barricade’s early-stage drug was identified by CPRIT as promising, thanks to the early backing of UT Southwestern-based Jerry Shay. An early-stage pharmaceutical venture led by Neil Thapar; Barricade will use its $2.99 million for colorectal cancer-focused clinical trials. Their experimental drug selectively kills a gene present in more than 80% of patients. CEO Thapar spent six years as director of drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics at Reata Pharmaceuticals based in Plano, Texas. That venture raised over $505 million in a stock sale to accelerate the pace from clinical-stage biotech startup to commercialization.
Dialectic was co-founded by David Genecov (Dallas craniofacial surgeon) and John Harkey Jr. The preclinical venture will receive $3 million for cancer drug development. These two Dallas founders were behind gene therapy company AxeXis which sold to Novartis for $8.7 billion in 2018.
Texas Magnetic Imaging
This Texas-based venture will use the $2.99 million to develop an imaging system for radiation therapy.
Other Recent CPRIT Grantees
Li Zhang, UT Dallas, $900,000
Jie Zheng, UT Dallas, $900,000
Changho Choi, UT Southwestern, $899,651
Luke Engelking, UT Southwestern, $900,000
Rodney Infante, UT Southwestern, $900,000
Shuang Liang, UT Southwestern, $900,000
Tiffany Reese, UT Southwestern, $900,000
Hasan Zaki, UT Southwestern, $900,000