UNC startup receives federal grant to kick-start cancer research commercialization

The company, G-Zero Therapeutics, is commercializing a high potential marker of molecular age measured from a patient blood sample, which could assist physicians in making more informed treatment-management decisions.

UNC startup receives federal grant to kick-start cancer research commercialization
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Ned Sharpless, MD

Media contact: Ellen de Graffenreid, 919-962-3405, edegraff@med.unc.edu

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A company based on discoveries made by UNC Lineberger member and associate director for translational research, Ned Sharpless, MD, has received a grant in the form of tax credits for more than $240,000 to help it invest in the development of new therapies designed to help minimize the toxicity of common cancer chemotherapies and radiation treatments. 

The company, G-Zero Therapeutics, is also commercializing a high potential marker of molecular age measured from a patient blood sample, which could assist physicians in making more informed treatment-management decisions.

The Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project (QTDP) is designed to provide grants or tax credits, as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services, to qualified biotechnology companies employing fewer than 250 people.  The companies must demonstrate reasonable potential to develop new therapies to treat cancers or chronic diseases with unmet medical needs, reduce long-term health care costs in the U.S. or significantly advance the goal of curing cancer.

“G-Zero is a great example of innovation at Carolina,” said Shelley Earp, MD, director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“The core findings on which G-Zero was founded were based on discoveries from Dr. Sharpless’ laboratories and licensed by UNC to create the company.  As this grant shows, there is significant potential to develop therapies that could help thousands of cancer patients avoid significant side effects from cancer treatment."

The research projects leading to discoveries licensed by G-Zero were partially supported by an Innovative Pilot Project award from the University Cancer Research Fund.  The company also has benefited from working with Carolina KickStart, according to Sharpless.  The market for G-Zero’s services may ultimately be in the billions of dollars.

The QTDP grant defrays small business expenses incurred in 2009 and 2010, and is designed to help promote the business’ growth. 

The work of G-Zero Therapeutics supports the Innovate@Carolina Roadmap, UNC’s plan to help Carolina become a world leader in launching university-born ideas for the good of society. To learn more about the roadmap, visit http://innovate.unc.edu.

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