Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, September 23, 2010

LSI’s Innovation Partnership accelerates progress of four projects in first year

The Innovation Partnership at the Life Sciences Institute marked its first year with one project spinning off into a new company focusing on obesity and diabetes treatment, and the other three drug-discovery projects making accelerated progress towards treatments in the areas of neurodegenerative disease, bacterial infection, and cancer.

Read about the projects in detail by downloading the full report.

The first-year results are detailed in a report just issued by the LSI.

The spinoff, Vega Therapeutics, has licensed technology from the lab of LSI Director Alan Saltiel. Saltiel’s project was based upon his discovery of the role of the IKKE gene in obesity and diabetes. The Innovation Partnership supported the development of that discovery to the point where investors were interested in starting a company around it.

The Innovation Partnership is a scientific-discovery enterprise that offers LSI scientists targeted funds and mentorship to focus on projects that might normally fall into the gap in the drug-discovery pipeline traditionally known as the “valley of death.”

As a scientist who received funding in the Innovation Partnership’s first year, Jason Gestwicki describes its impact: “Getting an experienced mentor group in place who can see the entire trajectory of your project and know what people and resources are needed to get your discovery from the bench to the bedside is so valuable. They can put the pieces in place to get the process moving in the right direction.”

Since its inception in 2009, the partnership has awarded $635,000 in gift funds from individuals and businesses to support the projects.