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ROCKVILLE, MD – A portfolio start-up company of the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund has been awarded $700,000 from Virginia Catalyst to commercialize its lead cancer drug candidate. Richmond-based InterLeukin Combinatorial Therapies (ILCT) is developing unique engineered therapeutic interleukins (a type of protein) which destabilize and can kill cancer cells. The grant was one of six, totaling $3.3 million, recently announced by Virginia Governor Ralph Northram, all in the oncology space.
Virginia Catalyst, formerly known as the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation, was created by the General Assembly in 2013. It is funded by the Commonwealth’s General Fund and seven Virginia public research universities. To date, it has distributed or announced 43 grants totaling $20 million over ten rounds to innovative life sciences companies in the state.
ILCT is a firm spun out of the laboratory of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Paul B. Fisher,
M.Ph., Ph.D., with an initial $750,000 investment from the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund. The Virginia Catalyst award, whose value has been structured as at least a partial match to AIM-HI’s investment, will help support collaboration among Dr. Fisher’s lab and colleagues at the University of Virginia toward development of the company’s commercialization efforts targeting metastatic cancers.
“This grant program requires ‘skin in the game,’ because award recipients must find industry partners willing to invest matching funds for their projects,” said Mike Grisham, CEO of Virginia Catalyst.
“Virginia Catalyst’s goal, like ours, includes accelerating the commercialization of inventions and discoveries made within academic institutions,” stated Sujuan Ba, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund. “We are excited that AIM-HI’s seed funding into InterLeukin Combinatorial Therapies has been matched by the highly reputable, state-affiliated institution. Together, the resources will greatly accelerate ILCT’s development toward clinical trials and bolster the company’s promising novel cancer-fighting technology.”
“We thank the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund for providing us the critically needed investment that allowed ILCT to compete for and be matched by the highly competitive Virginia Catalyst award,” said Dr. Fisher, the company’s president. “The AIM-HI and Virginia Catalyst support will greatly help make our innovative approach to treating cancer work.”
The AIM-HI Accelerator Fund is a new paradigm through venture philanthropy to fund translational research and start-up oncology companies that commercialize innovative laboratory breakthroughs into new therapies and technologies which can potentially save cancer patients’ lives. It is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established with an initial grant from the National Foundation for Cancer Research, with the vision and capacity to accelerate the translation of cancer drug discoveries.