Release Date: October 24, 2012
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Biosciences Incubator has selected its first tenants: AccuTheranostics, AndroBioSys and Ceno Technologies, three companies that will benefit from the facility's location at UB's Clinical and Translational Research Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC).
AccuTheranostics, previously based in the UB Technology Incubator at Baird Research Park in Amherst, is dedicated to helping cancer patients personalize chemotherapy treatment to achieve the best possible results.
AndroBioSys, the brainchild of two Roswell Park Cancer Institute researchers, is developing novel ways to detect, image and treat early prostate cancer.
And Ceno Technologies, a materials science company, is moving its biological sciences division to the incubator, where Ceno researchers will study and develop nanoparticles for delivering drugs.
Executives at all three firms cite the UB Biosciences Incubator's proximity to potential research and clinical partners as a key benefit.
"We are on the medical campus now, which means we will have better and easier communication with the Roswell staff," said Sherry Bradford, founding president of AccuTheranostics, which relocated to the incubator this August.
The 4,000-square-foot incubator houses offices and state-of-the-art wet labs on the fifth floor of the Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC)/Gates Vascular Institute. The 10-story building, which UB and Kaleida Health and UB jointly opened earlier this year, is at the corner of Goodrich and Ellicott Street in Buffalo.
The incubator is run by UB's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR). Clients pay to rent space, but receive free access to services such as specialized equipment; seminars on entrepreneurship; guidance on business needs such as marketing; and assistance applying for grants and seeking investment capital.
These resources are particularly helpful for life science entrepreneurs -- like Bradford -- who come from research backgrounds and have limited experience in the business world.
"STOR facilitates the transfer of UB discoveries into enterprises that create value and provide products and services that benefit the public good," said UB Associate Vice Provost Woody Maggard, who oversees STOR's incubator program. "One of the key ways we do this is through incubating new companies, just as we have at the Baird Research Park since 1988. The UB Biosciences Incubator will extend this effort by collaborating with the CTRC to bring additional UB discoveries to market."
AccuTheranostics is dedicated to helping doctors identify which chemotherapy treatments will likely work on a patient's tumor -- and which likely won't.
To achieve this goal, the company tests different chemotherapy combinations on cells biopsied from patients' tumors. These tests reveal which mixtures of drugs are likely to be effective in combatting each individual's unique cancer, said Sherry Bradford, PhD, the firm's founding president.
So far, AccuTheranostics has screened hundreds of tumors. The firm's ChemoFit test has been 98 percent accurate in identifying resistant drugs and 97 percent accurate in identifying effective drugs, Bradford said.
As an oncology researcher, Bradford finds entrepreneurship rewarding because of the difference she is making in people's lives. She recalls what one cancer patient told her about chemotherapy, which can cause debilitating side effects: "It's one thing to get sick on a drug that works. It's another thing to get sick on a drug that doesn't work," the patient said, according to Bradford.
"That's why we do what we do," Bradford said.
As incubator clients, Bradford and her colleagues have attended seminars on topics including marketing and intellectual property. UB's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach introduced the firm to its attorneys and a business consultant.
Bradford said moving into the UB Biosciences Incubator will help AccuTheranostics grow. The firm is applying for certification under New York State's Clinical Laboratory Evaluation Program, which is necessary for the company to receive health insurance reimbursements for its services, company representatives said.
AndroBioSys specializes in advanced detection, diagnostic imaging and therapeutics for early prostate cancer. One of the company's major goals is to develop techniques that will enable doctors to target drugs and imaging agents specifically to the prostate, while limiting the exposure of these chemicals in other parts of the body.
The company's founders are Gary J. Smith and James L. Mohler, both researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Smith, PhD, is a member of Roswell's prostate program and a member of the institute's urology department. Mohler, MD, another prostate cancer expert, chairs Roswell's urology department and serves as Roswell's senior vice president for translational research. Mohler is also a professor of urology at UB.
Smith said AndroBioSys is working to address one of the most important issues in prostate cancer treatment today: the need to give doctors better tools for predicting which prostate tumors will threaten patients' lives.
"Statistically, one in six men is diagnosed with prostate cancer. However, the vast majority of these cancers remain clinically insignificant, such that the person is likely to die with the cancer, and not of the cancer," Smith said. "Since the two groups can't be differentiated, the tendency is to treat all people aggressively, and the downside to that is two-fold. It's very expensive, and second, there is a high probability of side effects like incontinence and impotence to what may be unnecessary treatment, which really changes the quality of life."
AndroBioSys is developing a serum-based diagnostic assay for detecting prostate cancer and identifying the subset of patients in which the cancer is likely to progress in a dangerous manner.
The company is also studying techniques for targeting imaging agents and treatments like chemotherapy to the prostate blood vessels. Smith said the firm's new location in the UB Biosciences Incubator will be beneficial to this research, helping to facilitate partnerships with UB researchers focused on developing innovative technologies in microvascular imaging.
About Ceno Technologies
Ceno Technologies is a global leader in developing high-quality advanced particle technologies. The firm's scientists develop novel materials for use by the automotive, manufacturing, military, pharmaceutical and other industries.
While Ceno Technologies formed in 2007 with a focus on materials science, the company quickly branched out into biomedical research, investigating the use of small particles to deliver drugs and support photodynamic therapy for an array of diseases.
The firm is based at the Innovation Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, but will move its Bio Division to the UB Biosciences Incubator.
This relocation will facilitate partnerships with medical researchers. It will also enable the company to isolate biological sciences experiments from other materials work, reducing the risk of cross-contamination, said Scottpatrick Sellitto, CEO of Ceno Technologies.
Both these factors are important as the company looks to expand its work in the biomedical sector, with the hope of bringing new research and manufacturing jobs to Western New York, he said.
"We do plan on expanding as much as we can," Sellitto said. "We're growing quite well, and I believe it's a very promising year. The move to the Clinical and Translational Research Center building is going to be very helpful not just for us, but also for the partners we want to help. We collaborate with a lot of medical doctors, PhDs and university professors who have requested our services."