November 26, 2013

UMass Med Licenses Anti-Cancer Technology

University of Massachusetts Medical School

The University of Massachusetts Medical School has licensed technology to treat cancerous tumors to a newly-formed biopharmaceutical company.

The company, Agalimmune Ltd., is based in London and California. It has received initial funding from investment groups and is conducting clinical studies of Alphaject.

Alphaject is based on more than 20 years of biomedical research by Dr. Uri Galili, a professor of surgery and medicine at UMass. The compound is injected directly into tumors to help the body recognize the cancer cells as threats and attack them, including those that have spread in the bloodstream to other parts of the body.

Alphaject aims to "convince" the body that it needs to attack cancer cells, a project known as immunotherapy.

"What makes Alphaject so remarkable is it's designed to alert the immune system and respond to a specific type of cancer cell," said Dr. Giles Whalen, a professor of surgical oncology at UMass Med. "Unlike other (similar) therapies, which may stimulate the immune system to attack cells indiscriminately, this helps ensure healthy cells don't get mistakenly targeted and destroyed."

Early clinical trials of Alphaject have taken place in Worcester, according to UMass spokesman Jim Fessenden. Agalimmune plans to continue using Worcester as one of its sites for additional clinical testing, Fessenden said.

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