FARMINGTON: CaraGen an emerging immunotherapy company is collaborating with researchers at the University of Connecticut in Farmington to develop a vaccine for treatment of patients with colon cancer.
CaroGen employs what it says is a “transformative virus-like vesicle (VLV) platform technology” developed by Professor John Rose at Yale University School of Medicine
and exclusively licensed to CaroGen.
The UCONN effort is being led by UConn Health Professor of Medicine, Daniel Rosenberg, PhD, the collaboration has a specific target studied by UConn researchers Kepeng Wang, assistant professor of immunology, and Anthony T. Vella, professor and Boehringer Ingelheim Chair in Immunology.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. It is expected to cause over 49,000 deaths during 2016, and the risk to individuals increases with age. Wang’s target, Interleukin-17 (IL-17), a pleiotropic pro inflammatory cytokine, can promote cancer-elicited inflammation and prevent cancer cells from immune surveillance.
CaroGen has been an active start up, in addition to the colon cancer vaccine effort the company has been working on a vaccine targeting the Zika virus. In November, 2016 the company raised $1 million in venture capital funding through GPFortune Investment Partners (GPFI), LLC, a subsidiary of G.P. Healthcare, a conglomerate, based in Shandong, China. The $1 million investment will be used to advance the company’s Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) development in the U.S. CaroGen and GPFI, LLC have also agreed to negotiate an agreement to develop and market CaroGen’s HBV immunotherapy product in China.
In return for the rights of development and marketing of HBV immunotherapy in China, GPFI LLC would invest up to an additional $7 million in CaroGen over the next 36 months based on achieving certain HBV preclinical milestones.
CaroGen is one of 21 biotech startups housed at the Technology Incubator Program (TIP) on the UConn Health campus in Farmington, which helps develop new biotechnology concepts into businesses.