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Allied-Bristol Licenses NYU Research, Starts New Company

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17 March 2016. Allied-Bristol Life Sciences, a joint venture of Allied Minds and Bristol-Myers Squibb, is licensing research from New York University on signaling pathways affecting growth of tumors, for a new company begun under its tutelage. Financial aspects of the deal between Allied-Bristol and NYU were not disclosed.

The new enterprise, known as iBeCa Therapeutics, will begin as a subsidiary of Allied-Bristol Life Sciences, or ABLS. The joint venture between Allied Minds and Bristol-Myers Squibb, started in August 2014, identifies research discoveries at university labs with commercial potential, and forms start-ups to develop those discoveries from early feasibility stages to preclinical therapy candidates. ABLS also provides capital for these initial stages. Once a discovery reaches drug candidate status, Bristol-Myers Squibb has the option to acquire the enterprise.

The deal with NYU licenses research from the lab of pharmacologist Ramanuj Dasgupta at NYU’s medical school. Dasgupta and colleagues study the Wnt signaling pathway, a set of proteins with signaling molecules that regulate cell interactions during tissue development. Mutations in genes affecting this pathway are associated with interruptions in stem cell control that in some cases lead to birth defects and diseases including cancer.

Dasgupta’s research includes work on compounds that limit actions of a particular set of Wnt signals, known as Beta-Catenin signals. Regulating Beta-Catenin signals has been shown to affect stem cells’ ability to regenerate into adult tissue cells, including the abnormal growth of cancerous tumor cells. Allied-Bristol is licensing Dasgupta’s work on this pathway, including targets for small-molecule therapies. iBeCa Therapeutics is expected to further drug discovery and preclinical development of candidate therapies.

In an ABLS statement, Dasgupta says iBeCa Therapeutics is picking up his lab’s work at a key juncture. “Our work is at a critical point in its translation,'” he notes, “where the resources and expertise of the ABLS team will make the difference in bringing these novel cancer therapies to patients as quickly as possible.”

As reported in Science & Enterprise, Allied-Bristol has two other similar enterprises that started up in the past year. In August 2015, ABLS licensed a new type of synthetic chemistry technology from Yale University that can stimulate the immune system to treat cancer. And in June 2015, ABLS licensed research from Harvard University on the actions of a Chinese root extract with therapeutic potential against fibrosis, inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.

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