Biotechnology company buys UT anti-cancer research platform

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Photo Credit: Lauren Ibanez | Daily Texan Staff

An Australian biotechnology company acquired an anti-cancer drug development platform created by three UT researchers last week.

The researchers created TEX-Core, a drug platform aimed at improving drugs that fight cancer. Despite the acquirement by The iQ Group Global on Sept. 16, chemistry research fellow Jonathan Arambula said the four researchers will still work to better develop TEX-Core.

“TEX-Core is a landmark development in oncology that will significantly improve the efficacy of platinum-based cancer therapeutics,” George Syrmalis, chairman and CEO of The iQ Group Global, said in a statement. 

The developers involved include Arambula, chemistry professor Jonathan Sessler, chemistry research associate Gregory Thiabaud and UT MD Anderson Cancer Center researcher Zahid Siddik.

Arambula said cancer has impacted all of them and their loved ones. He said he lost his father in 2016 to brain cancer, and Sessler is a three-time cancer survivor.

“Real success for us is when cancer is gone (and) when we help humanity,” Sessler said. “That’s obviously a really high bar. So today, we’re happy about the acquisition, but tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves and get to work.” 

 

Arambula said drugs developed through TEX-Core are designed to more accurately target tumors and fight drug-resistant and drug-sensitive tumors. OxaliTEX, the first drug to be developed as a part of the TEX-Core platform, targets ovarian cancer, he said.

Sessler said the group had worked on TEX-Core for over a decade, but taking the platform out of the lab and into the business world was harder than they anticipated.

“University technology takes a long time to ripen,” Arambula said. “There’s a disconnect between academia and industry (and) from discovery at universities to actual clinical candidates.”

Arambula said TEX-Core is focused on solving two main problems in current cancer drugs.

“Problem one is that a lot of medications we’re using in this day and age is one step away from being rat poison,” Arambula said. “You’re basically hoping you kill the cancer before you kill the patient. Problem two is that cancer has designed itself to survive. So, just like we hear about antibiotic resistance, cancer can also be resistant to cancer drugs.” 

While Arambula and the team are excited about the business deal, he said there’s still more to be done.

“There’s obviously a bright future,” Arambula said. “It’s just really difficult to be satisfied when your work isn’t done yet.”