Albuquerque, NM – May 4, 2015 SolaranRx CEO and Co-Founder Les Stewart believes it is fitting that the STC.UNM (STC) Co-Investment Fund’s $100,000 investment in the Albuquerque-based start-up company coincides with national Melanoma Monday, a day aimed at raising awareness of the most deadly form of skin cancer.
“There is no cure for metastatic melanoma. Current treatments don’t work for a majority patients, have serious, sometimes fatal side effects; and are very costly to the healthcare system,” Stewart explained. “It’s exciting that a new treatment option for this deadly disease is being developed in New Mexico using UNM technology. It’s equally exciting that the STC Co-Investment Fund is making a financial commitment to help SolaranRx bring a potentially transformative new treatment for metastatic melanoma to patients.”
The STC Co-Investment Fund was established with the UNM Foundation in April 2014 when UNM Regents voted unanimously to create the $1 million fund to co-invest with local angel groups and venture capital funds in UNM start-up companies using technology developed at UNM. The Fund is administered by STC.UNM, the university’s technology-transfer and economic-development office. STC’s Co-Investment Committee reviews requests for funding based on extensive criteria for business success and can invest up to $100,000. The SolaranRx investment is the sixth deal made since the Fund was established.
Stewart and fellow SolaranRx co-founder Stuart Rose acquired exclusive rights to the UNM technology in June 2014. The company’s lead product, SRX-1177, is a novel peptide linked to a radioisotope that preferentially attaches to melanocortin-1 (MC1) receptors, which are over-expressed in about 80 percent of melanoma cells. SRX-1177 can be used to identify melanoma patients with MC1 receptors. Those patients can then be injected with therapeutic doses of SRX-1177 to deliver targeted radiation to cancer cells, while minimizing the impact on healthy cells. This merger of therapy and diagnostics creates a unique theranostic product for metastatic melanoma.
Commenting on the investment, STC.UNM CEO Lisa Kuuttila said the investment in SolaranRx reflects the intent of the UNM Regents when it established the Co-Investment Fund to help grow promising New Mexico technologies into thriving New Mexico companies. “Having the Fund allows STC to provide much needed seed capital to sustain promising start-up companies like SolaranRx that could grow into larger, job-creating companies for New Mexico.”
STC is not the only one to recognize the potential of SolaranRx’s lead product. Informa and Kantar Health named SRX-1177, among the 2014 Top 10 Most Interesting Oncology Projects to Watch for its strong science and potential to address unmet medical needs in treating metastatic melanoma.
According to STC, there are currently 53 active start-up companies based on UNM technology and 40 of them are located in Albuquerque. In 2013, STC.UNM spun out nine start-up companies; in 2014, there were also nine. Thus far in 2015, there are six active startups, with five in Albuquerque.
“We are very grateful for STC’s investment,” Stewart said. “Our goal is to offer physicians a new therapeutic option and new hope to patients with this deadly disease.”
As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico, STC.UNM protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring the technologies to the marketplace. We connect the business communication (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of startup companies. Visit www.stc.unm.edu.
About SolaranRx, Inc.
SolaranRx, Inc. is developing a new class of therapies and companion imaging agents for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. This merger between therapeutics and diagnostics-often referred to as theranostics-constitutes a new level of personalized medicine for treating metastatic melanoma. SolaranRx seeks to improve treatment and patients’ quality of life, giving new options to clinicians and hope to patients. Visit www.SolaranRx.com.
For more on SolaranRx and its recent approval for orphan-drug status from the FDA for SRX-1177, see Dan Mayfield’s May 1, 2015 article, “Albuquerque startup SolaranRx raises $200,000 for unique treatment,” at http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/bizventures/2015/05/albuquerque-startup-solaranrx-raises-200-000-for.html?ana=e_du_pub&s=article_du&ed=2015-05-01&u=i0GEuubMboiI4I0YV5aEygsAevC&t=1430756009, and SolaranRx’s April 21, 2015 press release, “SolaranRx’s SRX-1177 Receives FDA Orphan Drug Designation as Malignant Melanoma Treatment,” by Melanie Lux at http://solaranrx.com/newsroom/press-releases/solaranrxs-srx-1177-receives-fda-orphan-drug-designation-as-malignant-melanoma-treatment/.
Source: SolaranRx, Inc.
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