A local bioscience company received a significant boost from the Kansas Bioscience Authority on Monday afternoon.
The KBA board of directors approved investing $390,000 in Lawrence-based Deciphera Pharmaceuticals. The money, part of $2.2 million in state projects the KBA funded, will go toward three programs focused on developing different classes of drugs for cancer and autoimmune disorders.
The KBA’s investment, which Deciphera will match with $1.75 million, will help the company identify specific drug compounds that can then be taken into preclinical trials.
The KBA’s largest investment Monday went to Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions, a division of Cargill that studies food safety technologies and new food products.
The KBA’s $750,000 will go toward building a Technology and Innovation Center in Wichita. The $15 million project would include a high-level biosecurity lab.
The company’s current technology and development center in Wichita is aging. The company is considering Wichita and Minneapolis, Cargill’s headquarters, as possible sites for a center. If the center stays in Wichita, 51 jobs would be retained and 10 new ones created.
Another company, PRA International, received $350,000 to expand its laboratory facilities in Lenexa. The expansion would be a $3.5 million investment and provide 52 new jobs over five years.
The KBA approved two other projects. The Kansas University Cancer Center will receive almost $250,000 to study how Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce breast cancer. The KBA also awarded $498,900 to the Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit to develop diagnostic tests that could prevent the spread of Rift Valley Fever virus, one of the top biological threats to the country’s food supply. The project would use a high-level biosecurity lab at Kansas State’s Biosecurity Research Institute.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Lawrence attorney and long-time Democratic Party worker Dan Watkins was announced as the newest member on the KBA board. A real estate attorney who served as Barack Obama’s senior campaign adviser in Kansas, Watkins is filling the vacated position of Ed McKechnie, who was named to the Kansas Board of Regents in February.