ApoGen receives $7 million investment for cancer therapy

Researcher in a lab

A University of Minnesota startup recently attracted a major investment to support continued development of drug therapies that make cancer treatments more effective.

ApoGen Biotechnologies Inc., launched in October 2014, announced last month that it had received $7 million from life science investment firm Accelerator Corporation to continue developing a new class of drugs that slows the evolution of cancer cells and to move these treatments toward clinical trials. ApoGen is based on discoveries by two U researchers: Reuben Harris, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics; and Daniel Harki, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicinal chemistry. John Santini Jr., Ph.D., is the company’s president and CEO.

Cancer therapies often become less effective over time as cancer cells become resistant to treatment. ApoGen’s drugs are designed to block a key enzyme that causes drug resistance, potentially making current and future treatments more effective.

“I have been working with Drs. Harris and Harki to move ApoGen’s science toward clinical and commercial development, and I am thrilled to now partner with Accelerator Corporation,” Santini said in a press release. “We believe that we have assembled the ideal team to advance our therapeutic technologies to slow or stop tumor evolution, which has the potential to yield a significant clinical impact for cancer patients.”

Russ Straate, associate director of the Venture Center, part of the U’s Office for Technology Commercialization, said Accelerator Corporation’s investment marks a milestone for ApoGen.

“For a startup that aims to develop a therapy based on innovative research and bring it to market, an investment like this is crucial,” Straate said. “This funding will help ApoGen in its next steps toward clinical trials and move it closer to the ultimate goal of getting this unique cancer therapy into the hands of those who can benefit from it.”

For more on the Accelerator Corporation’s investment in ApoGen, see the College of Biological Sciences blog.