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SUNY Downstate Startup Company Secures Over $1 Million in Seed Funding Investment for Advancement of Proprietary Cancer Companion Diagnostic Test
Research findings promise new cancer diagnostics and therapeutics to identify and select patients who can benefit from a new class of cancer drugs
Brooklyn, NY— Concarlo Holdings, LLC, a newly-formed startup biotechnology company based on SUNY Downstate research, closed today on more than $1 million in seed funding to advance the company's proprietary cancer companion diagnostic test. The test, now in early clinical validation studies, will allow oncologists to identify and select patients who can benefit from a new, important class of cancer drugs called CDK4 inhibitors (Cdk4i), recently approved by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and international regulatory agencies.
Concarlo's seed investors include several private investors, as well as the Accelerate NY Seed Fund, which focus on emerging company opportunities in the lower regions of New York State.
The test is based upon discoveries made by Dr. Stacy Blain, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in Downstate's Pediatric and Cell Biology departments. Specifically, the test exploits Dr. Blain's work on CDK4 regulation in breast cancer. Concarlo's ApY is a companion diagnostic used to identify patients responsive to CDK4 inhibitory therapies. It will inform doctors and patients whether this class of cancer drugs will have any effect on a patient's particular tumor.
Concarlo has also initiated a program to develop a new drug, IpY, which addresses the drug resistance that can develop with Cdk4i treatment. The seed idea for this work was recently published in the prestigious journal Molecular Cancer Research, accessible here.
"Dr. Blain's research programs help us understand the signals related to how certain cells are regulated and how they contribute to cancer progression," said Downstate president Wayne J. Riley, M.D. "The diagnostic test being developed at Concarlo will help target appropriate therapies and reduce costs-an issue pertinent to our patients' care."
"The formation of Concarlo, and the development of these technologies in the commercial setting are logical extensions of the work I have been doing in my Downstate lab for the last 15 years," said Concarlo founder Dr. Blain. "The location of the Downstate Incubator, literally across the street from Downstate, encouraged me to make this important transition." "The goal of the incubator is to provide a nurturing and supportive environment to help scientists bring discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside," said Eva Cramer, Ph.D., President of the Downstate Biotech Incubator. "We are very proud of Concarlo and their great progress, and look forward to future successes."
"New treatments like Pfizer's palbociclib, or Ibrance, mark a significant advance in cancer therapy, but they are not effective in all patients," said Brandy Houser, Investment Manager at the Accelerate NY Seed Fund. "Finding out which patients are best suited for this treatment will eliminate negative side effects for those not suited for this type of treatment. Concarlo's work promises to identify those breast cancer patients suited to this line of therapy, but, very possibly, to also identify appropriate patients with other types of cancer. Together with our partner Empire State Development Corp., we are very excited to work with Dr. Blain and the Concarlo team."
"It is very gratifying when our scientists' academic research findings can be directly translated into novel approaches to assess and treat human diseases," said David Schoenhaut, Ph.D., Director of Downstate's Office of Technology Commercialization. "Obtaining private sector investment from funders such as the Accelerate NY Seed Fund through the licensing and company formation process has proven to be an effective and expedient path to realizing this goal for many institutions."
About Dr. Stacy Blain, Ph.D. and Concarlo Holdings, LLC
Dr. Blain is an internationally known expert in cell cycle and cancer biology and has been studying cell cycle regulation for more than 20 years. She is an NIH-funded investigator and Associate Professor in Cell Biology and Pediatrics at SUNY Downstate who has both basic science and translational projects, studying the role of the oncogene cyclin D-cdk4, and p27 in cancer. Dr. Blain also serves as the director of the Neoplasia subunit in the College of Medicine at Downstate. Concarlo Holdings is located at the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator at 760 Parkside Ave. Click here for more information about Concarlo.
Dr. Blain earned a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University, and her Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Columbia University. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Molecular Biology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center under the tutelage of Dr. Joan Massagué. For more about Dr. Blain's work, click here.
About START-UP NY
START-UP NY seeks to accelerate entrepreneurialism and job creation across the state on a large scale, with a particular focus on Upstate New York. The State University of New York campus system, along with other college communities, serves as the framework of the START-UP NY program to attract high-tech and other start-ups, venture capital, new business, and investments from across the world. Under the program, businesses have the opportunity to operate completely tax-free for 10 years on eligible campuses and spaces. Businesses will partner with higher education institutions in the SUNY system as well as other universities and be able to access industry experts and advanced research laboratories. The Downstate Biotechnology Incubator is a New York State Certified Business Incubator and a STARTUP-NY Tax-Free Area.
About SUNY Downstate Medical Center
SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.
SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.