After a pair of key milestones this year, a startup working on a new way to treat cancer is opening an office in Baltimore city.
ImmuCision BioTherapeutics is taking office and lab space in the space at the University of Maryland BioPark at 801 Baltimore St.
The startup’s technology was invented by Hua Cheng, who is faculty member at the university. It’s taking a new approach in the fledgling area of immunotherapy, which harnesses that body’s own immune system to treat cancer.
ICBT’s work is focused on dendritic cells, which Cheng described as a “regulator” of the immune system. The founder sees the cells as a potential catalyst to create immune cells that could be used to treat types of cancer that are not addressed by chemotherapy or other existing treatments.
“ImmuCision has developed an innovative method that can significantly improve the growth (and quality) of dendritic cells in the lab,” Cheng said in a statement. “In addition, the newly developed method allows efficient genetic modification to enhance dendritic cell function.”
It’s the latest in a year that’s brought a flurry of activity for the company. Launched in 2017, the startup secured a licensing deal with UMB through UM Ventures. Earlier this year, it received $2 million as part of a sublicensing deal with a pharmaceutical firm in China. ICBT declined to disclose the name. In May, a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed promising results in animal models. In terms of IP, an application is out for an international patent.
The trajectory has the attention of university tech transfer leaders.
“With ImmuCision, the BioPark has added another important healthcare startup to its innovative tenant base,” UM Ventures Director Jim Hughes said in a statement. “We are excited that the company has received validation through a peer-reviewed publication and an external investment.”
ICBT is one of a half-dozen therapeutics companies currently operating in the biomedical research park on the west side of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Earlier this year, biotech manufacturing firm Paragon Bioservices also announced plans to expand its existing space within the same building. The latest expansions come after a pair of departures by firms who moved to the counties in 2017. By the end of last year, the BioPark also expanded with the opening of the GRID innovation hub at the nearby Lion Brothers Building.
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