Research Foundation News

October 12, 2016

Purdue-related startup develops late-stage prostate cancer therapy that could increase patient survival rates, eliminate hormone therapy resistance

Resarci therapeutic Junjie Li, a postdoc research fellow in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, retrieves a sample that will be tested for research related to the development of an alternative therapy for late-stage prostate cancer patients who may have developed a resistance to current hormone therapies. The technology is being further developed and commercialized by Resarci Therapeutics LLC. (Purdue Research Foundation photo) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A biomedical startup that licensed a Purdue University technology has developed a late-stage prostate cancer therapy that could provide an alternative to current hormone therapies that are known to develop resistance after prolonged use.

Ji-Xin Cheng, a professor in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering; Junjie Li, a postdoc research fellow in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering; and Timothy L. Ratliff, a professor in Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, co-founded Resarci Therapeutics LLC to further develop the technology.

Cheng said that resistance to current hormone therapies is one of the biggest challenges patients face in treatment.

"Hormone therapies have a goal to reduce male hormones, called androgens, in the body, or to stop them from affecting prostate cancer cells," he said. "Almost 100 percent of cancer patients will eventually develop a resistance to hormone therapies. Every year in the United States around 32,000 new cancer cases become resistant, lessening the likelihood of survival."

Resarci Therapeutics has developed a new therapeutic strategy by targeting the cholesterol metabolism instead of the androgen pathway.   

"By targeting the cholesterol metabolism, which is specific to cancer cells and independent of the hormone signaling pathway, we are able to eliminate the hormone resistance," Li said. "We target the aberrant cholesterol metabolism using an inhibitor of cholesterol esterification enzyme ACAT-1, named avasimibe. Avasimibe selectively kills cancer cells by preventing the cholesteryl ester accumulation and inducing free cholesterol related toxicity in cancer cells."

Ratliff said the company has demonstrated the ability of the inhibitor avasimibe to overcome the resistance to hormone therapy in mouse models and is looking to further improve their product in future trials.

"We want to improve the formulation of our product, test it in preclinical settings and launch an early-stage clinical trial," he said. "We are applying for funding from NIH and other agencies but are also looking for investors or potential partnerships with pharmaceutical companies."

Technology used by Resarci Therapeutics has been licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. Rearci Therapeutics is a member of the Purdue Startup Class of 2016. Purdue has 27 startups based on Purdue intellectual property that were launched in the 2016 fiscal year. The company is also a client of Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator located on the Purdue campus, and was a recipient of the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund First-Tier Black Awards receiving $20,000. A video about Resarci Therapeutics LLC can be found at https://youtu.be/TmvD9PP-wmA.

For information on other Purdue intellectual property ready for licensing and commercialization, visit http://www.otc-prf.org. For more information about available leadership positions, investing in a Purdue startup or licensing a Purdue innovation, visit http://www.purduefoundry.com.

About Resarci Therapeutics

Resarci Therapeutics LLC is a biomedical startup co-founded by Purdue faculty and staff in 2015, aiming to translate research findings to clinical products, with the goal to make better therapies for cancer patients. Resarci is working on preclinical and clinical trials of potential cancer therapeutics.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at innovation@prf.org. 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org

Sources: Junjie Li, li603@purdue.edu

Ji-xin Cheng, jcheng@purdue.edu

Timothy Ratliff, tlratliff@purdue.edu


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