A Lab-to-Market Plan for Modifi Biosciences

November 30, 2022
Portrait of a man

The National Cancer Institute has selected a Yale-based start-up, Modifi Biosciences, for a $2.4 million fast-track Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Award to bring the company’s precision oncology platform into phase 1 clinical trials.

The co-founders of Modifi Biosciences are Seth Herzon, the Milton Harris ’29 Ph.D. Professor of Chemistry in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Ranjit Bindra, the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Therapeutic Radiology at Yale School of Medicine and medical director of the Yale Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Herzon and Bindra are also members of the Yale Cancer Center.

Herzon and Bindra have developed a new class of chameleon-like molecules that show favorable, drug-like properties in treating gliomas — one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer. The molecules are active and selective against cancer cells that lack expression of the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine methyl transferase (MGMT). Loss of MGMT expression is common in other cancers as well, including up to 40% of colon cancers, 35% of small cell lung cancers, and 25% of non-small cell lung cancers, suggesting broad applicability for Modifi Biosciences’ therapeutic strategy in treating various cancers.

“This SBIR grant serves as an independent peer review of the therapeutic potential for our novel approach to leverage direct cancer DNA modification to one day change the treatment paradigm, particularly for patients with brain cancer,” Herzon said.

The National Cancer Institute’s SBIR programs offer funding, mentoring, and networking assistance to help businesses like Modifi Biosciences take research from lab to market.

“The SBIR funding mechanism is essential for the early stages of biotech start-ups, it’s a critical source of non-dilutive capital, which can help us de-risk assets and pass key value infection points quickly,” Bindra said.