Quark Venture announces US$4.5 million in funding to support critical work in cancer immunotherapy of two world-leading scientists at Harvard Medical School (HMS)
Vancouver, British Columbia. – April 6, 2017 – Today, Quark Venture Inc. announced a signing of a unique research sponsorship agreement with Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development (OTD). The US$4.5 million supports the joint research of principal investigators Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD, and Dennis Kasper, MD, trailblazers in their fields of cancer immunology and microbiome science, respectively.
The premise of the research is that the missing ingredients for cancer immunotherapy may be found in the gut. Combining cutting-edge insights from gut microbiology, immunology, and oncology, the scientists will deploy a new “immune-oncology-microbiome”(IOME) platform to identify new bacterial strains, molecules, or drug targets that address the problem of resistance to immunotherapy and create new treatment strategies in immune-oncology.
Under the terms of the agreement, Quark Venture will have the option to negotiate a license for the intellectual property (IP) that arises from the project, and to enable a start-up company to develop that IP toward commercial applications and therapies that ultimately benefit patients.
“As a new venture model, we’ve said from the outset that Quark Venture will seek out the best science and scientists the world has to offer. We are privileged to be collaborating with Dr. Sharpe, Dr. Kasper and the Harvard Medical School. Their prestige, reputation and track record of scientific advancement and commercial success speaks volumes,” said Karimah Es Sabar, Chief Executive Officer, Quark Venture. “This relationship allows us to get involved early to support and accelerate the commercialization process for what promises to be a significant breakthrough in the fight for cancer. Furthermore, we look forward to ongoing collaboration with Harvard Medical School to identify and support additional innovative technologies that will lead to breakthrough therapies and start-up companies,” Ms. Es Sabar added.
Sharpe was among the first scientists to discover and elucidate checkpoint biology, a mechanism by which many tumor cells evade the immune system by inhibiting T cell responses to tumors. Kasper has been a pioneer in recognizing the crucial role of the microbiome in influencing the immune system and thereby maintaining health and preventing disease. Drawing on the expertise, advanced research tools, and skills of their two labs, Sharpe and Kasper hope to delve further into the mechanisms of interaction between the microbiome and the immune system to create a library of new knowledge and define possible therapeutic strategies in immune-oncology.“It has become clear through clinical experience with checkpoint inhibitors that the composition of the microbiome has a strong effect on patients’ response to the drugs,” said Michal Preminger, Executive Director of Harvard OTD’s HMS branch. “These two pioneering Harvard scientists are now coming together to tackle the riddle of what, in the microbiome, is causing this differential response.”
For more information about Dr. Arlene Sharpe and Dr. Dennis Kasper and their research see http://otd.harvard.edu/news/missing-ingredients-for-cancer-immunotherapy-may-be-found-in-the-gut/
Quark Venture is focused on equity financing of innovative biotechnology and health sciences companies with breakthrough technology platforms and projects. The organization’s approach is to establish long-term relationships with target companies, with a view to enable and strengthen management to realize the full potential and value of the technology. This approach has been previously successfully demonstrated in the energy and high tech sectors where Quark Venture partners have invested. Quark Venture’s management is supported by a scientific and commercial advisory board. For more information on Quark Venture visit www.quarkventure.com
Kaley Wilson – Quark Venture
Director, Business Development