Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

Venture Firm, Cancer Center Start Antibody Biotech Company

Antibody illustration

Antibody illustration (J.S. Choi,

6 Sept. 2023. A company formed by M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Panacea Venture plans to develop synthetic antibodies as treatments addressing new cancer targets. Initial funding amounts from Panacea Ventures or others for Manaolana Oncology Inc. in Thousand Oaks, California were not disclosed.

Manaolana Oncology seeks to commercialize discoveries by researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, part of the University of Texas system. The company expects to develop monoclonal antibodies, synthetic proteins acting like natural antibodies in the immune system that attack specific protein targets called antigens unique to cancer cells. M.D. Anderson and Panacea Venture say the new biotechnology company’s output will address multiple types of cancer, designing candidate therapies for eventual clinical testing at M.D. Anderson.

One of the labs behind the work of Manaolana Oncology is headed by Samir Hanash, director of M.D. Anderson’s proteomics platform that studies proteins used by tumors to grow and develop. Hanash and colleagues investigate these proteins for unique features that offer targets useful for diagnostic tests and treatments, including immunotherapies that invoke an immune system response. Their work has led to a catalog of characteristic cancer proteins found on the surface of tumor cells providing targets across multiple cancer types. “By combing through petabytes of proteomic data,” says Hanash in a statement, “our team has uncovered many cancer-restricted antigens that may offer prime targets for monoclonal antibody therapies.”

Faster antibody design and production

Another M.D. Anderson lab with intellectual property for Manaolana Oncology is led by molecular pathologist Kevin McBride that studies basic functions of B lymphocytes, white blood cells in the immune system for producing antibodies. McBride and colleagues investigate the biology of B cells at fine genetic levels to better understand their affinity for antigens and binding behavior.

Their work resulted in processes for quickly designing and producing synthetic antibodies addressing specific cancer targets, instituted in M.D. Anderson’s Recombinant Antibody Production Core that generates engineered antibodies for research and treatments. “This is an important evolution,” notes McBride, “because current approaches to creating high-quality monoclonal antibodies require lengthy and intensive production protocols, which can be costly and are not always successful.”

M.D. Anderson and Panacea Venture say Manaolana Oncology expects to further refine these advances into new cancer treatments developed at a faster pace than before. “By developing therapies targeting new tumor antigens,” says company co-founder and CEO Winson Tang, “Manaolana Oncology aims to address a critical need for patients with cancer. Manaolana is the Hawaiian word for hope, and it is our intent to offer patients renewed hope against this disease.”

Manaolana Oncology is organizing at Panacea Venture, with Panacea funding start-up expenses and recruiting more company executives. Panacea Venture is a six year-old life science venture investor, based in the U.S. and China, supporting start-up enterprises from incubation through expansion. Tang, Manaolana Oncology’s CEO, is a Panacea venture partner.

More from Science & Enterprise:

We designed Science & Enterprise for busy readers including investors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and students. Except for a narrow cookies and privacy strip for first-time visitors, we have no pop-ups blocking the entire page, nor distracting animated GIF graphics. If you want to subscribe for daily email alerts, you can do that here, or find the link in the upper left-hand corner of the desktop page. The site is free, with no paywall. But, of course, donations are gratefully accepted.

*     *     *


Comments are closed.