Health researchers work with startup on colon cancer vaccine

January 17, 2017 by Jessica Mcbride, University of Connecticut
Kepeng Wang, assistant professor of immunology, right, works with research associate Kasandra Rodriguez in the lab at CaroGen Corp. in the technology incubator at Farmington. Credit: Peter Morenus/UConn Photo

The University of Connecticut and emerging immunotherapy company CaroGen Corp. have begun a collaboration to develop a vaccine for treatment of patients with colon cancer.

CaroGen's proprietary technology platform will be applied to a specific target studied by UConn Health researchers Kepeng Wang, assistant professor of immunology, and Anthony T. Vella, professor and Boehringer Ingelheim Chair in Immunology.

CaroGen Corp.'s platform is a transformative virus-like vesicle (VLV) technology developed at Yale University School of Medicine and exclusively licensed by CaroGen for the development and commercialization of immunotherapies worldwide.

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.

"While the death rate from has been dropping for several decades thanks to screening and improved treatment, our goal is to reach close to a 100 percent survival rate," said CaroGen's President and CEO, Bijan Almassian. "By combining our platform with Dr. Wang's very promising target, we hope that a new powerful immunotherapy will be developed to provide patients with that assurance."

The company will have the right to exclusively license intellectual property developed by UConn through this collaboration, for human and animal health use.

The company is one of 21 biotech startups now housed at the Technology Incubator Program (TIP) on the UConn Health campus in Farmington, which helps develop new biotechnology concepts into businesses. CaroGen is leveraging the resources of the program to develop a portfolio of immunotherapies, with a lead program in chronic hepatitis B viral infection in collaboration with researchers from Yale University School of Medicine and Albany Medical College.

It is also working on the development of VLV immunotherapies against C. difficile bacterial infection in collaboration with Kamal Khanna, assistant professor of immunology at UConn Health, and a vaccine against the Zika virus with Paulo Verardi, associate professor of pathology at UConn Storrs.

"CaroGen is proving to be both a scientific and entrepreneurial leader in Connecticut," said Dr. Jeff Seemann, UConn's vice president for research. "Dr. Almassian has led multiple efforts to apply the CaroGen technology in collaborations with UConn researchers where critical and urgent health care needs exist. We are very excited about this latest endeavor, which we believe will yield significant therapeutic and commercial opportunities through the combined expertise of UConn Health's Department of Immunology and CaroGen."

Explore further: Advanced lung cancer knocked out in clinical trial

Related Stories

Advanced lung cancer knocked out in clinical trial

December 14, 2016
A leading-edge immunotherapy clinical trial at UConn Health's Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center has packed a one-two punch, successfully controlling a patient's advanced lung cancer using the combined power ...

Researchers develop personalized ovarian cancer vaccines

October 7, 2014
Researchers at the University of Connecticut have found a new way to identify protein mutations in cancer cells. The novel method is being used to develop personalized vaccines to treat patients with ovarian cancer.

Auditors: National Science Foundation suspends UConn grants

May 1, 2015
The National Science Foundation has frozen more than $2 million in grants to the University of Connecticut after a foundation investigation found two professors used grant money to buy products from their own company, Connecticut ...

Walnuts may improve your colon health

June 2, 2016
Eating walnuts may change gut bacteria in a way that suppresses colon cancer, researchers led by UConn Health report in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Recommended for you

Experimental arthritis drug prevents stem cell transplant complication

April 24, 2018
An investigational drug in clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis prevents a common, life-threatening side effect of stem cell transplants, new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows. ...

Scientists develop a new model for glioblastoma using gene-edited organoids

April 24, 2018
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an incredibly deadly brain cancer and presents a serious black box challenge. It's virtually impossible to observe how these tumors operate in their natural environment and animal models don't ...

Research shows possible new target for immunotherapy for solid tumors

April 24, 2018
Research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) reveals a potential new target to help T cells (white blood cells) infiltrate certain solid tumors.

Changes in breast tissue increase cancer risk for older women

April 24, 2018
Researchers in Norway, Switzerland, and the United States have identified age-related differences in breast tissue that contribute to older women's increased risk of developing breast cancer. The findings, published April ...

Targeting molecules called miR-200s and ADAR2 could prevent tumor metastasis in patients with colorectal cancer

April 24, 2018
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The main cause of death in patients with colorectal cancer is liver metastasis, with nearly 70% of patients ...

Removing the enablers: Reducing number of tumor-supporting cells to fight neuroblastoma

April 24, 2018
Investigators at the Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at Children's Hospital Los Angeles provide preclinical evidence that the presence of tumor-associated macrophages—a type of immune cell—can negatively ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.