License agreement announced to develop and market cancer treatment compounds

The NDSU Research Foundation and OncoThira have entered into a license agreement involving technology developed at North Dakota State University (NDSU). OncoThira will develop and market compounds discovered by NDSU pharmaceutical sciences researcher Steven Qian for the treatment of cancer. The main compound developed by the research has shown a significant reduction in the size of tumors associated with multiple cancers in animal models.

“Many current cancer treatment methods use inhibitors to block COX-2 (cyclooxygenase), a membrane-bound enzyme expressed abundantly in cancer tumors and which can promote tumor growth. However, this approach has clinical outcomes limitations. In addition, COX-2 inhibitors can severely injure the gastrointestinal tract and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Steven Qian, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the College of Health Professions at NDSU.

“Our strategy represents a paradigm shift in cancer treatment by taking advantage of high COX-2 expression in cancer to down regulate cancer promoting prostaglandins and elevate production of the recently characterized anti-cancer compound 8-HOA (8-hydroxyoctanoic acid),” said Qian.

OncoThira and NDSU will further optimize the drug and progress studies toward human clinical trials. While specific details of the terms of the agreement are not public, OncoThira will make various milestone payments and pay royalties on sales of a drug that is covered by pending patents.

“We at OncoThira are very excited about this opportunity with NDSU. We believe this technology puts us at the forefront of cancer research to develop a novel, targeted cancer therapy by taking advantage of the body's natural defenses to inhibit cancer growth and metastasis, as well as enhancing current chemo-agents to revolutionize cancer treatment,” said Dr. Nick Poulios, Chairman of OncoThira.

"While pharmaceutical researchers at NDSU hold patents on numerous discoveries, Dr. Qian's new approach to cancer treatment is the first discovery in the School of Pharmacy to be part of a license agreement that can advance the science to potentially benefit patients," said Charles D. Peterson, dean of the School of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions at NDSU.

NDSU Tech Transfer Director Jolynne Tschetter added, “We are proud to be working with OncoThira and look forward to seeing the impact of the therapies they create using Dr. Qian’s research.”

NDSU Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that handles the patenting and licensing of technologies that are discovered and developed in NDSU research laboratories.

OncoThira is a Delaware corporation located in Pleasanton, California and is dedicated to the development and commercialization of cancer therapeutics using innovative, patented formulations and/or previously approved active pharmaceutical ingredients that address highly unmet medical needs.

In the NDSU College of Health Professions, the School of Pharmacy educates undergraduate, professional and graduate students and creates new knowledge through excellence in the practice of pharmacy and pharmaceutical research. Research areas include asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, pancreatic, colorectal, prostate and breast cancer, obesity, targeted prescription drug delivery methods, topical antibiotics, hypertension, stroke and opioid misuse prevention. The school is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

Inquiries may be directed to Jolynne Tschetter at (701) 231-6743 or (For NDSU Research Foundation) and to Dr. Nick Poulios (for OncoThira).


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