Modifi Bio Receives $2.4 Million Award from National Cancer Institute to Advance Innovative Precision Oncology Platform

Yale Spinout Moves Closer Toward IND-enabling Studies

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct. 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Modifi Biosciences, a leader in direct DNA modification developing novel cancer therapeutics, has been selected by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for a Fast-Track Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Award of $2.4 million to further advance its novel precision oncology platform into the clinic. This grant will support drug development around a class of molecules targeting cancer cells lacking expression of key DNA repair protein called MGMT (O6-methylguanine methyl transferase), based on a recent publication from the Yale founders’ laboratories in Science.

“This SBIR grant serves as an independent peer review of our transformative approach to exploit DNA repair defects via DNA modification, which has the potential to one day change the oncology treatment paradigm, particularly for patients with brain cancer,” said Seth Herzon, PhD, Modifi Bio co-founder, and the Milton Harris ’29 PhD Professor of Chemistry in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The National Cancer Institute’s SBIR programs offer funding, mentoring, and networking assistance to businesses like Modifi Bio developing innovative cancer technologies to help take research from lab to market.

“The SBIR funding mechanism is essential for the early stages of biotech start-ups, it’s a critical source of non-dilutive capital, which can help us de-risk assets and pass key value infection points quickly,” said Modifi Bio Co-founder Ranjit Bindra, MD, PhD, who is the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Therapeutic Radiology at Yale School of Medicine, and Scientific Director of the Yale Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Modifi Bio recently completed a seed round investment in April of this year, and they officially opened their doors with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Elm City Bioscience Center in September. As published recently in Science, Modifi Bio’s core platform has been validated in vitro and in vivo, in pre-clinical models of gliomas and other cancers with loss of MGMT expression. These studies have revealed exquisite anti-tumor activity with a highly favorably therapeutic index, selectively targeting tumors with loss of MGMT over normal tissue. Loss of MGMT expression is common in other cancers, including up to 40% of colon cancers, 35% of small cell lung cancers, and 25% of non-small cell lung cancers, suggesting broad applicability for Modifi Bio’s therapeutic strategy in treating various cancers.

“Modifi Bio is able to quickly translate our research from bench-to-bedside because the structures of our small molecules are similar in nature to drugs that have been already tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in humans, but our molecules are critically different because they are able to overcome key resistance mechanisms in cancers,” said Herzon. “With the help of the SBIR grant, Modifi Bio is one step closer to clinical trials.”

About SBIR
Aiming to stimulate innovation and inspire entrepreneurial spirit within research and development, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive award program that enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides incentive for commercialization. Applications undergo a vigorous peer-review process, which involves both National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute subject matter experts, to assess and validate the technology readiness and commercialization potential.

About Modifi Bio

Based in New Haven, CT, Modifi Bio is a leader in direct DNA modification developing novel therapeutics by uniquely targeting tumor-associated DNA repair defects. Aiming to improve the standard of cancer therapy and patient care, the Modifi Bio team includes world-renowned scientists, clinicians and experienced biotech entrepreneurs with deep expertise in synthetic chemistry, DNA repair, and translational research in oncology. The company has offices and laboratories at the Elm City Bioscience Center, a newly renovated 110,000 square-foot facility within walking distance of Yale that supports emerging New Haven biotechnology companies.

Kristin Jutras
TellMed Strategies
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