University of Kansas startup company HylaPharm recently received a $300,000 small innovation research contract to resume its work on effective cancer treatments.
Hylapharm, located in the Bioscience and Biotechnology business center, was founded in 2010 and is led by Daniel Aires, Laird Forrest and Craig Paddock. This company began with the goal to develop cancer chemo-therapies against locally advanced cancers affecting roughly 200,000 Americans every year.
“Hylapharm is a spin out from the school of pharmacy and the aim is to develop new drugs to treat cancers, specifically what are called locally advanced cancers. Those are cancers that are too big to treat with surgery alone, but they’re not yet all over the body,” said Daniel Aires, President and CEO of HylaPharm. “The work that Hylapharm is doing, is developing drugs that can be injected straight into those cancers, and get a high dose into the tumor, and also get a high dose into the lymph nodes which is where those tumors typically spread.”
With this $300,000 contract from the National Cancer Institute, HylaPharm plans to repurpose an existing drug to treat a more advanced breast cancer.
“We are aiming to treat what’s called triple negative breast cancer, and I’m guessing a lot of people watching this have heard of her2/neu, the estrogen receptor, the progesterone receptor, some of the more specific ways you can target breast cancers, in a less toxic manner,” said Aires. “The problem with triple negative, is as it sounds like, its negative for all of these targets, so the safer treatments wont work for them, so therefore, if we can figure out a way to deliver this medicine in a high enough dose to these triple negative breast cancers it could be a really helpful option for those patients.”
Hylapharm has effectively treated pet dogs with naturally occurring cancers with no evidence of recurrence as well as mouse models. The cancer in those dogs appeared to be gone after they injected the tumors with their patented drug HylaPlat ™.
“In the dogs, we’ve had several dogs who got cancer, and the families wanted to see if there was a non surgical alternative, they didn’t want the dogs to be cut up or lose function of smell or eating,” said Aires. “So instead they were treated with our injection, and we have had several dogs who’ve had complete responses, which means the cancer appears to be gone for all practical purposes.”
HylaPharm hopes to expand their treatment and begin testing in human trials once they are eligible to apply for a second phase of SBIR funding.
“After we get this initial work done, we hope to be getting a larger funding unit called SBIR phase two, which could help bring it up to the door step of human trials,” said Aires. “And of course our goal with all of these is not only to treat companion animals and dogs, but also to eventually bring this to human patients.”
For more detailed information on the work that HylaPharm does, visit hylapharm.com.