Waltham, MA. Minerva Biotechnologies, a leading cancer and stem cell development company, today announced that it has been awarded a grant under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Company received a grant of $244,479, which was the maximum allocation, to support its preclinical development of anti-cancer drugs that target a fundamental mechanism that drives the growth of 75% of cancers.
The grant was awarded in response to an application submitted by Minerva to the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Projects (QTDP) Program, established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the IRS to support companies doing research that would create and sustain US jobs, result in new therapies or reduce the cost of health care. The QDTP program recognized Minerva’s ability to significantly advance the goal of curing cancer within the next 30 years.
“We’re very happy to receive this grant,” said Dr. Cynthia Bamdad, Minerva President and Chief Executive Officer, “This funding will help support the development of our MUC1*-disabling therapeutics that we believe will be very powerful anti-cancer drugs. They directly interfere with the regulatory mechanism that determines whether a cell grows normally or becomes cancerous. Our preclinical studies have also demonstrated that they reverse resistance to chemotherapy drugs, including the breast cancer drug, Herceptin.”
Minerva is developing small molecule and antibody-based therapeutics that disable the MUC1* growth factor receptor, which is a normal embryonic stem cell growth mechanism that cancer cells hijack to grow in an unregulated manner and allows them to evade chemotherapy drugs. Minerva developed agents that turn this primal growth pathway OFF, for the treatment of cancers and developed other agents that turn it ON for the growth of embryonic stem (ES) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, in vitro. Minerva will soon commercialize its Defined Stem Cell Growth Media, containing a single proprietary growth factor. This defined media supports serial passaging of ES and iPS cells in the absence of feeder cells, their conditioned media, or bFGF. Progeny differentiate down all three germlines and maintain normal karyotype.