How We Partner with Industry
Strategic alliances aim to provide space for innovative collaborations to accelerate breathrough discoveries in cancer research. Our goal at the Office of Strategic Industry Ventures is to develop deeper and more robust relationships with companies that share a similar vision and goal.
Technology transfer aims to transition institutional intellectual property to third parties for further development and commercialization. We cultivate relationships with reputable entities and entrepreneurs with a proven record of advancing technologies to the market.
The Office of Strategic Industry Ventures and Office of Technology Commercialization teams collaborate routinely to align interests and goals with stakeholders to deliver innovative pathways and contractual frameworks to partner with industry.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Panacea Venture today announced the launch of Manaolana Oncology Inc., a new company created to develop and advance antibody-based therapies against novel cancer antigens.
Manaolana Oncology seeks to build upon the innovative antibody production capabilities and intellectual property of MD Anderson to research and develop novel monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and other antibody-based therapies for a variety of cancer types, with the goal of advancing promising therapies into clinical studies at MD Anderson.
The company will be headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and will be led by an executive team with more than 100 years of combined experience in product development and strategic partnering. Panacea will fund start-up expenses for Manaolana Oncology and will support the recruitment of additional experienced executives to shape the company.
“By developing therapies targeting new tumor antigens, Manaolana Oncology aims to address a critical need for patients with cancer. Manaolana is the Hawaiian word for hope, and it is our intent to offer patients renewed hope against this disease,” said Winson Tang, M.D., co-founder of Manaolana Oncology. “Manaolana Oncology brings together MD Anderson’s expert scientists and clinicians with Panacea’s experienced biotechnology team to create a focused organization working to develop a novel portfolio of monoclonal antibodies.”
Monoclonal antibody therapies have emerged as important treatment options for many types of cancer. They are designed to recognize and bind to specific targets, or antigens, on cancer cells in order to manipulate certain signaling pathways or recruit immune cells to the tumor.
The laboratory of Samir Hanash, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Clinical Cancer Prevention at MD Anderson, has conducted an extensive characterization of the cancer surfaceome, resulting in a comprehensive catalogue of proteins found specifically on the surface of cancer cells across tumor types.
“By combing through petabytes of proteomic data, our team has uncovered many cancer-restricted antigens that may offer prime targets for monoclonal antibody therapies,” Hanash said. “We look forward to collaborating with Manaolana Oncology to develop novel antibody-based therapeutics that offer patients impactful new treatment options.”
Kevin McBride, Ph.D., associate professor of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis at MD Anderson, has pioneered a high-throughput platform to clone and produce mAbs from isolated B cells, enabling the development of highly specific antibodies against a particular cell surface target to create novel therapeutic mAbs.
“This is an important evolution because current approaches to creating high-quality monoclonal antibodies require lengthy and intensive production protocols, which can be costly and are not always successful,” McBride said. “We look forward to working with Manaolana Oncology to build on these techniques and rapidly bring forward innovative therapies for clinical evaluation.”
Manaolana Oncology intends to optimize the techniques developed at MD Anderson in order to improve the speed and efficiency in of producing antibodies against promising candidate antigens.
MD Anderson has an institutional conflict of interest (COI) with Panacea and Manaolana Oncology due to MD Anderson’s ownership interest in Manaolana and the future research to be conducted at MD Anderson. These relationships will be managed according to an MD Anderson Institutional COI Management and Monitoring Plan.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Nexo Therapeutics today announced a multi-year strategic collaboration that aligns the innovative technology and capabilities of each organization at the earliest stages of drug discovery and development to rapidly advance impactful new cancer therapies against previously undruggable targets.
The agreement brings together Nexo’s unique drug discovery platform, which combines innovative covalent chemistry and chemical biology, with the translational research and drug development expertise of MD Anderson’s Translational Research to AdvanCe Therapeutics and Innovation in ONcology (TRACTION) platform. MD Anderson and Nexo will work together from discovery through investigational new drug-enabling studies to accelerate development of small-molecule therapies for patients with limited treatment options.
“We are excited to work with the team of researchers at MD Anderson to discover and develop novel cancer medicines targeting some of the fundamental drivers of cancer that have eluded past efforts,” said Andrew Phillips, Ph.D., founder and chief executive officer of Nexo Therapeutics. “By joining our complementary skills and capabilities at the earliest stages of drug discovery, we aim to enhance the prospects of rapidly advancing novel therapies to the clinic.”
Many promising cancer targets present significant hurdles for conventional drug development approaches based on the structure of the target as well as selectivity and pharmacological properties of the drug. The Nexo platform aims to systematically address each of these issues by combining a chemistry engine with chemical biology capabilities.
Nexo’s chemistry engine, CODON (Covalent Discovery and Optimization), combines a proprietary library that leverages chemical diversity and innovative covalent chemistries with scalable biochemical and in-cell proteomics. This allows the company to identify promising hit compounds and to conduct rapid optimization to produce compounds for in vivo studies.
The company’s unique chemical biology approach, INFINI-T (Informed Profile Before Initiation of Target), uses the power of chimeric fusion proteins to address target biology and pharmacology questions. The function of these chimeric proteins can be controlled by small molecules in cellular and in vivo models to generate detailed information about the required depth, duration and selectivity of target inhibition. Importantly, the INFINI-T platform provides target product profiles for medicinal chemistry well in advance of lead optimization. This is expected to decrease the time and capital needed to bring drug candidates to the clinic.
“Together with Nexo’s innovative platform, our integrated approach to translational research and drug development is poised to design and rapidly advance novel therapies against high priority oncology targets,” said Tim Heffernan, Ph.D., vice president of Oncology Research for TRACTION at MD Anderson. “This collaboration highlights our commitment to advancing innovative new medicines that address critical unmet needs for our patients.”
MD Anderson established the TRACTION platform to overcome traditional hurdles in oncology drug development and to quickly and safely advance the right treatments for the right patients. The platform incorporates a variety of cutting-edge technologies, disease modeling approaches and data analytics tools to better inform drug development, from discovery into clinical trials. The TRACTION platform is a core component of MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division, an integrated team of clinicians, researchers and drug development experts working to advance impactful therapies for cancer.
Beginning at the first stages of drug discovery and target identification, TRACTION researchers will collaborate with Nexo to characterize susceptible cancers, to identify potential combination treatment strategies and to evaluate biomarkers that can optimize patient selection.
Nexo and MD Anderson will collaborate on discovery and translation efforts, with the option to extend the collaboration into clinical development. Nexo will provide research support funding, and MD Anderson is eligible to receive certain royalties and payments based on a range of future development, regulatory, commercial and business milestones. Nexo will retain all rights to programs under the collaboration and will have sole responsibility for development, manufacturing and commercialization.
MD Anderson has an institutional conflict of interest with Nexo related to this research, and this relationship will be managed according to an MD Anderson Institutional Conflict of Interest Management and Monitoring Plan.
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