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Archive for Thursday, August 5, 2004

Lawrence firm wins $100,000 grant

CritiTech to use award to continue testing cancer drug Nanotax

August 5, 2004

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A Lawrence company working to develop a new cancer drug has received a $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

CritiTech Inc. said Wednesday it had received the grant to continue testing Nanotax, a drug that could be used to treat breast and ovarian cancers.

Sam Campbell, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, said the grant would fund a second round of preclinical trials for the drug, which is being tested in cooperation with researchers at Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

"The results of earlier studies were very encouraging, and the next research phase will move forward quickly as a result of this grant," Campbell said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires the testing before approving the drug for medical use.

CritiTech officials are touting Nanotax as a possible new and improved version of Taxol, a well-known drug used to treat breast and ovarian cancers. CritiTech officials say they hope tests will show Nanotax can be used to treat the same types of cancers but with fewer side effects.

CritiTech was spun off from the Higuchi Biosciences Center at KU, where the technology it uses was first applied for pharmaceutical drug delivery.

The technology allows the company to make small particles of existing drugs to enhance their delivery and effectiveness in humans. Officials have said the market for the technology could be huge because it is estimated about 30 percent of drug discoveries are unusable because they can't be easily absorbed by the body.

KU officials said the work illustrated how bioscience research in Kansas and Missouri had created opportunities for new business development.

"CritiTech is a prime example of how technology developed through KU research leads to the formation of a spin-off company with the potential to significantly benefit the economy of Kansas and the health of society," said Jim Roberts, vice provost for research and president of the KU Center for Research.

CritiTech, 1321 Wakarusa Drive, was founded in 1997. It uses research conducted by Bala Subramaniam, a KU professor of chemical and petroleum engineering and director of KU's Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis.

In a news release, Campbell thanked several KU faculty members for CritiTech's success and the development of Nanotax: Valentino Stella, university distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry; Charles Decedue, executive director of the Higuchi Biosciences Center; Roger Rajewski, associate research professor at the Higuchi center; Fenghui Niu, research associate in the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis; and John Haslam, research professor at the Higuchi center.

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