ISSUED: 30 August 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A new cancer therapy that Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix helped develop to target Nodal for treatment and diagnosis of cancers is one step closer to benefitting those who suffer from the disease. TaiRx, Inc., a Taiwanese biotechnology company, has entered into an agreement with Northwestern University and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to acquire the rights to a portfolio of seven patents plus three pending patent applications using Nodal as a new target for treatment and diagnosis of aggressive cancers.
Hendrix, who served as president and chief scientific officer of Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, led the original group of Nodal inventors at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. After accepting her current position as president of Shepherd, Hendrix moved her lab to the West Virginia University Cancer Institute, making it possible for a Shepherd student to intern there with her laboratory research team. Adam Hull, a biology major from Inwood, is the first recipient of the Robert Louis Katz Medical Research Foundation internship in Hendrix’s laboratory in Morgantown, where Hull spent part of his summer working and presenting his findings.
The research team discovered that Nodal is highly expressed in various malignant cancers, especially associated with the cancer stem cell phenotype and drug resistance to current therapies. Hendrix’s group has shown that an antibody directed against Nodal effectively decreases tumor cell growth and induces cell death in certain tumor types. TaiRx will further develop this technology as a new treatment strategy for targeting cancer stem cells and also as a biomarker to be used with its clinical compound, CVM-1118, which is currently in clinical Phase I development as a potential next-generation treatment for various aggressive cancers.
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