Texas Medical Center Launches Inaugural Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics Program
15 researchers and companies with promising new cancer therapies to participate
Houston, Texas (January 26, 2021) – Today, the Texas Medical Center (TMC) announced the first class of participants of the Accelerator for Cancer Therapeutics (ACT) program. TMC ACT is the only accelerator focused on cancer researchers and biotech companies at the earliest stages of commercialization. The TMC ACT program will be run by TMC Innovation, which also spearheads TMC Biodesign and the TMCx accelerator.
The TMC ACT program is a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)-funded accelerator launched in collaboration with the Gulf Coast Consortium (GCC) and University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). The program’s innovative model is a comprehensive nine-month program focused on oncology biotech commercialization. Located in Houston, the home of world-leading cancer care and research, this program unites participants from across Texas and provides them with integrated resources and support to reach their next milestone. TMC ACT will be the newest program offered by TMC Innovation, where community, space, and resources unite in the former Nabisco cookie factory to accelerate life science innovation.
ACT will provide Texas researchers and startup companies with integrated training, resources, and mentoring in order to help advance innovative cancer therapy discoveries and drug development, ultimately leading to new approaches and therapies for cancer patients. At the end of the program, ACT participants will develop and incorporate an integrated strategic plan culminating with at least one grant submission and an option to pitch to investors and corporate partners.
“As the past year has shown, the pace of scientific discovery can be blistering; at the same time, successfully translating research into effective therapies available to patients requires a mix of business, technical and regulatory skills that may not typically be available to researchers,” said Tom Luby, Director of TMC Innovation. “By linking the participants with mentors who can both advance their scientific work and support the technical needs, we expect this first class of ACT participants will make a meaningful difference for cancer patients in Texas and beyond.”
The selected researchers and companies are spearheading groundbreaking work in the area of cancer therapeutics, and throughout the program they will be mentored by a world class group of scientific, business and innovation leaders. TMC ACT participants will gain a deep understanding of market research, FDA regulatory, intellectual property, licensing, finance, fundraising, legal and other critical areas that will propel the companies’ busines and prepare them for long term success. In addition to strategic mentorship, the program provides dedicated computational chemistry resources and grant writing support for CPRIT and national funding opportunities. There is no exchange of equity for participation in TMC ACT, widening the opportunity to support both academic researchers and biotech companies.
“By bringing together cancer researchers, oncologists, executive mentorship, drug development experts, and investors, the TMC ACT is supporting the early translational space for life science researchers and entrepreneurs,” said CPRIT Chief Scientific Officer James Willson, MD. “With entrepreneurship training and mentoring more readily available, the TMC ACT is designed to advance innovative cancer therapy discoveries for the benefit of cancer.”
The first class includes 15 total participants, located across the state of Texas. Of the 15 participants, 53% are formed companies and 47% are academic researchers. Participants represent a wide array of focus areas, including in immunotherapy, cell therapy, targeted therapy, cancer pain and drug platforms.
The 2021 cohort includes:
- Fannin-ATCG: Drug Platform – Aptatmer
- IDA Thereaputics – Drug Platform – Antibody
- Elbrus Therapeutics – Drug Platform – Covalent Modifier
- Parthenon Therapeutics – Immunotherapy – Collagen Modifier
- Lokesh Battula – Immunotherapy – Checkpoint Receptor
- Aumeta – Immunotherapy – Adjuvant
- Autoimmunity Biologic Solutions – Immunotherapy – Antisense Oligos
- Max Mamonkin – Cell Therapy – CAR-T
- Qing Yi – Cell Therapy – CAR-T
- Astero Alta – Targeted Therapy – Antibody Drug Conjugate
- TEZCAT Laboratories – Targeted Therapy – Drug-conjugated Protein
- Anil Sood – Targeted Therapy – Antibody
- Coactigon – Targeted Therapy – Small Molecule Inhibitor
- Xiadong Cheng – Cancer Pain – Small Molecule Inhibitor
- IonTx – Cancer Pain – Small Molecule Inhibitor
The nine-month program will kick off at the end of January.
About Texas Medical Center
Texas Medical Center (TMC)—the largest medical city in the world—is at the forefront of advancing life sciences. Home to the brightest minds in medicine, TMC nurtures cross-institutional collaboration, creativity, and innovation among its 106,000-plus employees. With a campus of more than 50 million square feet, TMC annually hosts 10 million patients, performs over 180,000 surgeries, conducts over 750,000 ER visits, performs close to 14,000 heart surgeries, and delivers over 25,000 babies. Beyond patient care, TMC is pushing the boundaries of clinical research across its extensive network of partner institutions on a daily basis, pioneering effective health policy solutions to address the complex health care issues of today, and cultivating cutting-edge digital health applications and medical devices.