Developing New Drug Therapies

daniel_harki Developing New Drug Therapies

A new St. Paul-based company that is developing drug therapies that will make cancer treatments more effective is based on scientific discoveries by Assistant Professor Daniel Harki. This startup company — one of a record 16 launched by the University of Minnesota over the past year — demonstrates the college’s commitment to bringing cutting-edge research beyond the lab and to the market, where it can benefit society on a larger scale.

“Licensing our technology to ApoGen allows us to dramatically accelerate the development of drugs and diagnostics to harness a novel source of tumor evolution and drug resistance in cancer,” said Harki. “I’m excited to watch our company grow and see what we can accomplish over the next couple of years.”

The company, ApoGen Biotechnologies, Inc., is developing a new class of drugs that will slow the evolution of cancer cells, as well as companion diagnostics to identify the patients likely to get the most benefit from these therapies. ApoGen’s drugs block the activity of an enzyme called APOBEC3B, and the companion diagnostic will identify tumors with high levels of this enzyme. This technology is broadly applicable to many cancer types, including breast, lung, ovarian, bladder, and head and neck cancers. Often, cancer therapies become less effective over time as tumor cells become resistant to treatment. Harki and ApoGen’s scientific cofounders discovered a primary cause of drug resistance and are now developing drugs to slow or even stop it. Their mission is to use these discoveries to break drug resistance in cancer.

Along with Harki, cofounders of ApoGen Biotechnologies include Reuben Harris, professor, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; and John Santini, the company’s president and CEO. More information about ApoGen can be found at their website