IU Philanthropic Venture Fund commits $500,000 to drug development company

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The Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund has committed to investing in Indianapolis-based NERX Biosciences Inc. The company discovers and develops targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment.

The Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund, which provides capital to faculty, students, alumni and staff at all IU campuses to help them further develop their research and innovations into startup companies, has committed to invest $500,000 in Indianapolis-based NERx Biosciences Inc. as part of $2.2 million bridge round.

The company discovers and develops targeted therapeutics for cancer treatment. John J. Turchi founded the company and serves as president and chief scientific officer. He also is a professor and the Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation Chair in Lung Cancer Research at the IU School of Medicine and the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

Katherine Pawelczak, the company’s vice president for research, is optimistic about NERx’s first-in-class targeted agent.

“This drug shows robust, single-agent, anti-cancer activity. Additionally, it has been designed to work with and enhance existing therapeutic regimens to provide effective combination therapy,” she said. “NERx is positioned to lead the first-in-class and first-in-human clinical trials with this novel agent.”

Pawelczak said the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund investment will assist NERx in further developing the agent.

“The investment, combined with additional funds we have raised, will allow NERx to complete the preparation of a preclinical data package to support an Investigational New Drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” she said.

NERx Biosciences has received more than $1.2 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of General Medical Sciences. It has also received $150,000 in matching funds from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and Elevate Ventures.

Teri Willey, manager of the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund and managing director of the IU Research and Technology Corp., said the fund is pleased to work with the NERx Biosciences team.

“NERx is developing small molecules for cancers that do not respond to current approaches, including immune therapy,” she said. “The company is now in position to expand its team to address the risks in clinical development and corporate partnering, and we are glad to be supporting them in doing so.”