SCRA Technology Ventures Company Kiyatec Awarded $1.725M to Advance Cancer STEM Cell Expansion

  • Oct 22, 2015
  • Press Releases

NCI Contract Funds Development of Novel Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) Expansion Technology and Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) Models

Greenville, SC - SCRA Technology Ventures’ SC Launch company KIYATEC announced today an award of a Fast Track Phase I and Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Contract for $1.725M from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The overall goal of the contract is to develop culture systems which can grow and maintain the rare population of malignant cells referred to by some as cancer stem cells, which are believed to lead to therapy resistance, relapse and death from metastatic disease. KIYATEC’s focus is small cell lung cancer (SCLC), one of the deadliest forms of cancer today with little advancement in treatments in 4 decades.

“A recognized barrier to improved patient outcomes in SCLC is that is relatively rare and there is limited tissue available for personalized medicine or research,” said Howland E. Crosswell, MD, KIYATEC Chief Medical Officer and Principle Investigator of the project. “If we are successful in isolating and expanding these rare cells from patient tumors, they may be an invaluable, renewable resource for identifying novel patient treatment strategies and developing better therapies, such as targeted kinase inhibitors, checkpoint inhibitors, adoptive T cell therapy or vaccines. These promising options are not currently available for patients with small cell lung cancer, but, with this work, we hope to change that.”

Tessa DesRochers, Ph.D., KIYATEC’s Scientific Director is the contract’s Co-Principal Investigator.

The new NCI contract will further KIYATEC’s mission to arm researchers and doctors with clinically relevant 3D ex vivo models to investigate drug response by growing cells isolated directly from patients and then testing live cancer cells in the laboratory. In September 2014, KIYATEC was awarded an approximately $2M Phase II NCI SBIR contract for creation of predictive ex vivo cancer diagnostics for breast cancer and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). This is the second multi-year contract awarded to KIYATEC and is being funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and Department of Health and Human Services under Contract No. HHSN261201500070C.

"The ability to test and predict which chemotherapy or targeted agent is most effective against a patient’s own cancer stem cells in KIYATEC’s expansion platform has the potential to powerfully inform oncologist’s clinical decision making and positively impact patient outcomes,” said Matt Gevaert, KIYATEC’s CEO.

KIYATEC’s success in this project would expand the number of options oncologists have to more effectively fight cancer alongside their patients.

“We are excited to be partnering with KIYATEC again on this project,” said Jeff Edenfield, MD, Medical Director of Greenville Health System’s Institute for Translational Oncology Research. “Small cell lung cancer, and other rare, aggressive cancers like it, is a very difficult cancer to study and treat, so applying promising technologies like KIYATEC’s to advance knowledge of the biology and to expand treatment options for these patients would be a major step forward.”

About SCRA Technology Ventures

SCRA Technology Ventures enables research commercialization and promotes the development of high tech industries, enhancing South Carolina’s technology-based economy. Through its flagship SC Launch program, this SCRA business sector makes investments in and offers support services to South Carolina’s early stage, start-up technology companies.

Multiple economic impact studies show SCRA's cumulative output on South Carolina's economy to be over $18.1 billion, and that the company has helped create approximately 15,000 technology-related jobs in the state, with annual wages averaging between $55,000 and $79,000.

About Kiyatec, Inc.

KIYATEC prioritizes accurate prediction of patients’ response to drug treatment, with a focus on data correlation to human clinical outcomes. The company creates and utilizes live phenotypic 3D cell-based models for drug response profiling. By accurately predicting patient drug response without ever exposing actual patients to drugs, KIYATEC will create informed drug selection that minimizes clinical trials’ failures and maximizes patient outcomes in the clinic. For more information, please visit or follow KIYATEC on Twitter (@KIYATEC).

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