Albuquerque, NM – July 10, 2014 STC recently announced that it has signed an option to license agreement with local start-up Accelera Diagnostics to commercialize several technologies developed at UNM’s Center for Molecular Discovery and a license agreement with local start-up EcoPesticides International for a green pesticide technology developed at UNM’s Center for Global Health. To read more about the deals, see Kevin Robinson-Avila’s July 10 article, “Startup to Market UNM-developed Drugs,” from abqjournal.com, reprinted below, and Dan Mayfield’s July 10 article, “STC.UNM Signs Two New Deals,” from Albuquerque Business First, at http://www.bizjournals.com/albuquerque/blog/morning-edition/2014/07/stc-unm-signs-two-new-deals.html.
Startup to market UNM-developed drugs
Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal
A slew of new therapies for everything from ovarian and breast cancer to leukemia and stroke could soon be headed to market thanks to an emerging partnership between the University of New Mexico and a Nevada-based venture investment firm.
Sunbelt Technologies Management LLC, which invests in emerging medical technologies at universities nationwide, signed an option to license up to 21 potential pharmaceuticals developed at UNM’s Center for Molecular Discovery.
Sunbelt is now hiring a team of medical researchers and marketing experts to screen the new therapies and channel the most-promising ones into a commercialization pipeline to be managed by a newly formed local startup company, Accelera Diagnostics Inc.
“Our goal is to have a big presence at UNM because it has so much potential through all its medical discoveries,” said Sunbelt founder and managing member Andy Pham.
“They have all this cutting-edge intellectual property and patents. We see UNM like a diamond in the rough with so many undiscovered gems that people don’t know about because investors usually go to places like Stanford, Harvard or Caltech to find these types of medical advances.”
The potential pharmaceuticals include both new compounds and “repurposed drugs” developed by researchers at the Center for Molecular Discovery. That laboratory, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is equipped with superprocessing capability that allows medical professionals to rapidly analyze drug interaction with tissue samples to identify promising therapies.
The center has used its advanced screening capability to test new uses for thousands of drugs already on the market to determine if those compounds can be used effectively to battle other diseases, said Dr. Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor of UNM’s Health Sciences Center.
“The center has gathered vast libraries of drug compounds whose original patents have expired,” Larson said. “Research on those compounds has allowed us to identify drugs that can be repurposed for use against many diseases, including leukemia, solid tumors such as ovarian and breast cancer, infectious diseases, and disorders in the neurological system such as stroke.”
But to take those drugs to market, UNM must partner with private industry.
“Accelera can help us a lot with that,” Larson said. “They have a lot of expertise in early stage drug development to help move new discoveries into the marketplace.”
Accelera initially will invest about $1 million to further study UNM’s new therapies and prioritize the ones with the best market potential, Pham said. The company first will focus on a new pharmaceutical for stroke diagnosis and treatment, plus a drug to fight ovarian cancer.
UNM Science and Technology Corp. President and CEO Lisa Kuuttila said it’s the first time UNM has signed such a broad licensing agreement for one investor to pick and choose from a full slate of new technologies.
“This gives us a commercial vehicle to figure out which drugs are the most viable and get some of them into clinics,” she said.
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