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M.D. Anderson, Spin-Off Company Gain $50M from Texas Agency

U.S. and Texas flags

Flags above Texas Capitol in Austin. (A. Kotok)

27 August 2018. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a spin-off enterprise formed earlier this month are receiving nearly $50 million in grants from Texas’s state cancer prevention and research agency. M.D. Anderson, part of the University of Texas system in Houston, is the recipient of $30 million from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or Cprit, while Magnolia Neurosciences Corp., also in Houston, is receiving $19.9 million.

Cprit is the agency that promotes cancer research and education throughout the state, providing grants to public institutions and private enterprises in Texas since 2009. The awards to M.D. Anderson and Magnolia Neurosciences announced on Friday were among 64 new grants totaling $177 million. Since its inception, the agency distributed some $2.15 billion.

More than half of the new Cprit funds to M.D. Anderson, $16.5 million, cover support for its core facilities and to recruit two new faculty members, hired from Rockefeller University in New York and University of California in Berkeley. Some $1.3 million from Cprit is devoted to smoking cessation programs for low-income women.

However, nearly $12 million from Cprit is awarded for two separate studies on breast cancer. Another $200,000 from a separate fund for high-impact and high-risk research is supporting a study on the breakdown of proteins in receptors for glucocorticoid hormones as a treatment strategy for treatment-resistant prostate cancer.

Magnolia Neurosciences, a company officially formed in New York on 13 August, is receiving $19.9 million from Cprit’s product development award fund to advance its technology to prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy and chemo brain, cognitive and memory problems that can result from chemotherapy. Magnolia is forming a separate subsidiary, Korysso Therapeutics based in Houston, for the Cprit work.

As reported by Science & Enterprise, the company is commercializing research by the Neurodegeneration Consortium, based in Houston, on programmed cell death, a natural and controlled process to eliminate excess nerve cells, or neurons, during embryonic development that becomes reactivated in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease. Among the company’s therapy targets is peripheral nerve damage from chemotherapy, which according to M.D. Anderson affects as many as two-thirds of the 700,000 people in the U.S. receiving chemotherapy. Symptoms include pain, burning, loss of sensation, and balance problems. But more than 200,000 people also encounter chemo brain that can last for years.

Magnolia already identified a drug candidate code-named KOR-8287 for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. The Cprit award supports development of the drug through early-stage and into intermediate-stage clinical trials. Those trials are expected to begin in the second half of 2019.

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