Research Foundation News

June 18, 2020

$400,000 SBIR grant fast-tracks new approach to treating lung, thyroid cancers

sintim-sitting Herman O. Sintim founded KinaRx and serves as its chief scientific officer. (Image provided) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A novel approach to treating lung and thyroid cancers is moving closer to clinical trials.

A $399,933 SBIR Phase I grant from the National Cancer Institute to KinaRx, a Purdue University-affiliated startup, will help to advance a novel platform aimed at producing more effective drugs to treat lung and thyroid cancers. The platform targets gene mutations that help cancers grow and expand within the body.

 “Genetic and molecular characterization of cancer-driving kinase mutations has revolutionized the treatment of many types of cancer,” said Herman O. Sintim, the Drug Discovery Professor of Chemistry in Purdue’s Department of Chemistry.

KinaRx was founded by Sintim, who is its chief scientific officer, along with M. Javad Aman, Rena Lapidus, Ashkan Emadi, Frederick Holtsberg and Joe O’Neill.

The compounds under development by KinaRx were developed using Sintim’s platform, which rapidly makes complex drug molecules using bioinformatics, multi-component compound synthesis and the understanding of disease biology.

The team has focused on developing novel RET inhibitors, which are compounds designed to target the various cancer cells at work in the body. First-generation RET inhibitors demonstrated about 30% overall response rate (ORR) and no complete regression of tumors. New-generation RET inhibitors in clinical development only showed complete regression of RET-driven tumors in a small subset of patients (2-14%). These poor complete regression rates call for more efficacious RET inhibitors, which are active against drug-resistant mutant RET kinases.

“This Phase I SBIR grant will facilitate several preclinical experiments that are required to advance the novel RET inhibitors into clinical trials,” said Sintim, who is a member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and the Purdue Institute for Drug Discovery.

KinaRx has licensed drug compounds through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization, which is now located in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus.

The researchers are looking for partners to continue testing and developing their technology. For more information on licensing and other opportunities, contact Sintim at

About KinaRx LLC

KinaRx is a start-up biotechnology company and focuses on development of novel kinase inhibitors for treatment of cancer with an emphasis on treatment of drug resistant tumors.  KinaRx portfolio includes therapeutic candidates for acute myeloid leukemia, lung cancer, and medullary thyroid cancer, among others.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park, Purdue Technology Centers and University Development Office. In 2020, the IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization at For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information about setting up a presence at Purdue, possibly in the Purdue Research Park or Discovery Park District, contact the PRF Economic Development Office at

Writer: Chris Adam, 
Source: Herman O. Sintim,

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