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Silicon Valley VC backs Raleigh startup with ties to Joe DeSimone that’s targeting pancreatic cancer

RALEIGH – A Raleigh life science startup targeting pancreatic cancer and other diseases with what it calls a “novel” drug delivery system,  has $5.5 million in new capital to fund further research in a round led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Khosla Ventures.

Advanced Chemotherapy Technologies is a clinical-stage drug delivery company.

The firm says the new capital from the Series A round to further develop a proposed local chemotherapy system called ACT-IOP-003.

“ACT has made remarkable progress leveraging their seed investment and NIH grants to advance their first product, ACT-IOP-003, into the clinic,” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, in the funding announcement. “ACT brings a skilled team and unique approach to drug delivery and precision medicine and we are excited to build on this momentum.”

The drug delivery system – which is implantable and utilizes a mild electrical current – was developed in the labs of Jen Jen Yeh, MD, and serial inventor/entrepreneur Joseph M. DeSimone, PhD, at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and is licensed from UNC They also are members of ACT’s board.

So far, so good, ACT says.

“In preclinical studies, 100% of pancreatic cancer tumors treated with the device using gemcitabine shrunk by an average of 40%, while tumors treated with intraveneously delivered gemcitabine grew an average of 240%.”

Here’s how ACT says the system works:

“It will be used to deliver the chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine, through the dense tumor microenvironment, directly to the tumor, while also minimizing the systemic toxicity commonly associated with chemotherapy treatments for pancreatic cancer.

“This approach offers three major advantages over traditional systemic chemotherapy:

  • (1) Superior delivery of chemotherapy to the tumor cells, greatly increasing the amount of drug to treat the tumor
  • (2) Tumor shrinkage that can enable surgical resection, the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer
  • (3) Greatly decreased systemic toxicity so that the patient can remain in treatment

“We are excited to have the support of such an outstanding Venture Capital firm in Khosla Ventures,” said Tony Voiers, ACT’s CEO. “We are now poised to move our lead product into the clinic, where we will have the opportunity to treat pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest of all cancers, and to continue to develop new applications for our novel drug delivery approach.”

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire