How UM Ventures helped a biotech startup get acquired in 18 months - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Jul. 21, 2017 12:48 pm

How UM Ventures helped a biotech startup get acquired in 18 months

Living Pharma, which has technology to help develop a new form of cancer treatment, was acquired by Gaithersburg-based Lentigen Technology.

Living Pharma Inc.'s Board of Directors (L to R): Ron Dudek, Eduardo Davila and Phil Robilotto.

(Courtesy photo)

A startup that spun out of research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine was acquired 18 months after forming.

In a deal announced this week, Living Pharma was acquired by Lentigen Technology Inc., a Gaithersburg-based subsidiary of Miltenyi Biotec GmbH. Terms were not disclosed.

Living Pharma’s technology focuses on CAR T-cell therapy, an emerging form of treatment that uses re-engineered versions of a patient’s immune cells to target cancer cells. The technology, invented by UMSOM faculty member Eduardo Davila, is designed to regulate the treatment, and allow the treatment to target multiple kinds of cancer cells.

Biotech startups often take years to grow to the point of an exit. Along with the promise of the technology, UMB Assistant Vice President for Tech Transfer Phil Robilotto said Living Pharma’s acquisition was the result of a concerted effort by the university to provide resources.

The intellectual property was identified as ideal for a startup, and cofounder Ron Dudek joined the company to build the business. Along with the way, the team behind UM Ventures’ New Ventures Initiative including Mark Lafferty, Rana Quarishi and Darryl Carter handled a lot of the “legwork” involved in building the company, said Robilotto.

“Their role really is to help move these companies along and do a lot of the day to day work that is so important,” he said.

They’re also looking to increase the number of startups that form out of the university’s 150 invention disclosures a year.

With this deal, Dudek is relocating full-time to Maryland and joining Lentigen. The larger company provides more resources to help the technology advance, Robilotto said.

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