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Four UB life sciences spinoffs receive new NIH funding

Four startups founded or co-founded by University at Buffalo researchers have received Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards from the National Institutes of Health to advance research on potential vaccines or therapies for a variety of diseases.

The companies are:

  • Abceutics Inc., founded by Professor Joseph P. Balthasar, PhD; Research Assistant Professor Brandon Bordeau, PhD; and doctoral student Toan Duc Nguyen from UB’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; and by Larry C. Wienkers, PhD, who has past experience as vice president and global head of pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism at Amgen Inc. Abceutics has received $168,038 from the National Cancer Institute to develop the first in a series of new drugs, called payload-binding selectivity enhancers (PBSEs), that aim to improve the safety and efficacy of certain cancer drugs. Balthasar is David and Jane Chu Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and Development in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Read more about Abceutics and its partnership with UB.
  • Immune Modulatory Therapies LLC, founded by UB Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology Richard Bankert, VMD, PhD; UB Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Sathy Balu-Iyer, PhD; and UB Research Scientist in Pharmaceutical Sciences Robert Chau, PhD. Immune Modulatory Therapies has received $293,178 from the National Cancer Institute to study the safety and efficacy of ExoBlock, a cancer-fighting drug that’s under development to help immune cells called T cells kill tumors. Read more about Immune Modulatory Therapies and its partnership with UB.
  • POP Biotechnologies Inc., founded by UB SUNY Empire Innovation Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Jonathan Lovell, PhD; and UB School of Law alumnus Jonathan Smyth. POP Biotechnologies has received $599,982 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a liposome-based COVID-19 vaccine that could be freeze-dried and then stored at room temperature, eliminating logistical challenges that can impact vaccination campaigns, such as needs for ultra-cold storage. Read more about POP Biotechnologies and its partnership with UB.
  • Transira Therapeutics LLC, founded by UB Professor of Chemistry Qing Lin, PhD. Transira Therapeutics has received $300,000 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to develop an oral pill for Type 2 diabetes, with the aim of helping patients control their blood sugar while facilitating weight loss. Read more about Transira Therapeutics and its partnership with UB.

All four startups have received technology transfer assistance and other support through UB’s Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships (BEP) team. Faculty founders of three — Abceutics, Immune Modulatory Therapies and Transira Therapeutics — received awards from the Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund administered by BEP. 

The university provides a range of support to faculty entrepreneurs, including seed funding, help with patent and grant applications, opportunities to locate in incubators, and assistance in identifying experienced entrepreneurs and business teams who can help move innovations to market.

“UB researchers pioneer life-changing innovations every day,” says Christina Orsi, UB associate vice president for economic development. “By supporting them with guidance, funds and space, and partnering them with business experts to serve as company leaders, we can advance those innovations into the world to really change lives.”

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