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UT San Diego: Avalon, GSK Form 8th San Diego Biotech

The San Diego Union-Tribune highlighted the formation of PDI Therapeutics, the eighth company formed under Avalon and GSK’s collaboration to advance early-stage biotechs.  The GSK and Avalon partnership was established in April 2013 and expanded in November 2015. Each company established under this agreement receives $10 million in Series A financing and R&D support from Avalon and GSK as well as R&D and mentoring support through COI Pharmaceuticals.

The UT further describes the deal, “Under the deal, Avalon takes the lead in identifying available promising technologies. They jointly decide whether to form a company around the technologies.  Under COI’s roof and with GSK’s participation, Avalon works to quickly advance the technologies to get a clinical candidate. At that point, GSK can acquire the company. If not, Avalon retains ownership and can seek other partners.

PDI Therapeutics is named for protein disulfide isomerase. When overexpressed, this protein can help tumor cells avoid detection by the immune system’s NK and T cells. PDI Therapeutics is developing antibody inhibitors to specific protein disulfide isomerases to unmask tumor cells so the immune system can recognize and destroy them. PDI’s inhibitors could be used as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other known immunotherapies, such as CAR-NK, that stimulate the immune system to recognize and eliminate solid tumors.

In addition, the first two companies created under the collaboration, Sitari Pharmaceuticals and Silarus Therapetics, have both met their first milestones: achieving lead declaration and establishing a path to identify a clinical candidate.  Sitari and Silarus are respectively developing drugs for celiac disease and iron overload disorders.

The press release is here.

Read the full article on The San Diego Union-Tribune.