omninano blog logo

Empowering Commercialization: TMC Innovation Accelerator Participant OmniNano Wins CPRIT SEED Award

2 Minute Read

The Texas Medical Center (TMC) Innovation Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics is an engine of hope, revolutionizing cancer care by producing innovative cancer therapies for patients in Texas and beyond. This transformative nine-month program is dedicated to training researchers and nurturing startup companies with resources and expert mentorship on clinical and business development.

A recent example of an Accelerator success is OmniNano Pharmaceuticals, LLC. The company’s founder, Chun Li, Ph.D., reflected on his 30-year journey, saying, “After three decades of research, I discovered that entrepreneurship is a powerful catalyst in the realm of health sciences.” Li and Guorong Ma, Omninano Pharmaceuticals’ chief executive, attribute the transformative experience of their company to the program igniting their entrepreneurial spirit and empowering them to achieve important milestones –from company formation to groundbreaking research.

Their dedication and participation as cohort members in the Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics resulted in a $2.7 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) SEED awards, specifically for product development research aimed at treating pancreatic cancer.

Both Li and Ma have become passionate advocates for innovation in pancreatic cancer therapies. As a faculty member at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Li has witnessed the reality of a six to eight-month median survival time post-diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is a challenging target for treatments due to its dense fibrous tissue, which limits the efficacy of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy.

Knowing this, Li devised a groundbreaking approach based on his MD Anderson research: the simultaneous delivery of two cancer treatment drugs—a conventional chemotherapy agent alongside a promising FDA-pending therapy. Early results in animal studies have been astonishing, offering newfound hope for patients. “We saw amazing results in animal studies, and we hope the results can translate into more clinical advances,” Ma says optimistically.

Beyond their commitment to pancreatic cancer, OmniNano Pharmaceuticals credits the TMCi Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics with instilling a robust business mindset. Participants dive deep into critical areas such as market research, FDA regulations, intellectual property, licensing, finance, fundraising, grant proposals, and legal matters—building a strong foundation for long-term business success. “The ecosystem in Houston is tremendously helpful,” said Ma, referring to the development of his and other life sciences startups. The key outcome of the Accelerator program is that participants leave with an integrated strategic plan to guide their company’s business and drug development efforts.

The Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics provides cohort members with the opportunity to work on at least one grant submission and to pitch their ideas to investors, corporate partners, media, and influential stakeholders.

Thanks to the nurturing environment of the TMC Innovation Factory, OmniNano Pharmaceuticals continues its pursuit of innovative pancreatic cancer therapeutics. In the ever-evolving landscape of cancer research, programs like the TMCi Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics provide the essential fuel for groundbreaking discoveries, offering renewed hope to patients and their families.

*Dr. Li has a personal financial relationship with OmniNano, which has been disclosed to MD Anderson’s Conflict of Interest Committee in accordance with institutional policy.

Back to top