TGen jacket in a lab

TGEN part of $2 million SBIR award to fund therapeutic development and testing

TGen jacket in a lab

TGEN part of $2 million SBIR award to fund therapeutic development and testing

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and Stingray Therapeutics, Inc. of Dallas and Houston, Texas announced a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) accelerated direct to phase II award of $2 Million. The NIH award, known as America’s Seed Fund, provides support to early-stage businesses to bring scientific innovations from bench to bedside.

Stingray co-founder and TGen Physician-in-Chief Sunil Sharma, M.D., says the funds will allow Stingray to complete preclinical activities at Stingray and TGen for Stingray’s novel innate immune oncology agent, SR-8541a, a novel ecto-nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 1 (ENPP1) inhibitor, including toxicology, drug product manufacture, IND filing, and clinical contracting. 

TGen, Part of City of Hope, also recently announced a new study in partnership with Arizona State University and Phoenix Children’s Hospital to better treat fatty liver disease in Latino youth. That project is funded by the National Institute’s of Health’s NIDDK. And TGen subsidiary Vidium Animal Health announced a partnership with Torigen Pharmaceuticals to expand genomics testing to more veterinarians, which will provide more options to advance the care of dogs with cancer. 

“This award validates our efforts as we look to bring new therapies to cancer patients,” said Sharma. “The early work with our agent is promising, and this grant will provide the resources to further validate our findings and work toward a clinical trial.” 

SR-8541a is an immuno-oncology therapeutic that will harness the power of the innate immune system. The hope is that it will act as a checkpoint inhibitor and allow the body to reactivate the immune system and work in combination with many other cancer therapies to combat tumor growth. Checkpoints act as walls that the cancer throws up to stop the bodies’ T cells and antibodies from being able to access and naturally destroy the tumor from the inside out. When the body’s immune system stops seeing the tumors they can grow unperturbed.

“We are thrilled to receive a direct to phase 2 award on the first try and to have it accelerated to begin immediately,” said Jon Northrup, Stingray CEO and co-founder. “SR-8541a holds great promise to help cancer patients and this SBIR  award helps fund the remaining steps required to take this promising drug to clinic.”

As part of the award, Mohan Kaadige, Ph.D., a research associate professor in TGen’s Applied Cancer Research and Drug Discovery division, will join Stingray for the majority of his time, while maintaining his professorship at TGen.

“I am enormously pleased to lead the Stingray team on this SBIR award as primary investigator. I have been associated with the program since its beginning and believe we have great potential to alleviate cancer suffering in the near future with this exciting technology.”   


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