$63M grant funds OK'd to bring cancer research, treatment to Texas

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The oversight committee of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) approved $63 million in grant allocation Wednesday to help “bring innovative researchers and companies to Texas,” per a CPRIT news release. The grant funds were used to attract cancer researchers and treatment developers from around the world, officials said in the release.

“Today’s slate of awards clearly illustrates how CPRIT is making Texas a global leader in cancer research,” said CPRIT CEO Wayne Roberts in the release. “Whether it’s Switzerland, Israel, Houston, or Dallas, CPRIT is funding the innovators and the ideas that will change the future in the fight against cancer. Around the world, CPRIT has made Texas the new home for innovation in medical research and life science.”

Wednesday’s oversight committee included a presentation from Kirk Dorius, CEO of Austin-based Atom Mines, LLC. The company specializes in the production of stable Ytterbium-176, which is needed to produce the radioisotope Lutetlum-177, which is used in radio-therapies to treat cancer.

Atom Mines was previously given a CPRIT production development research grant to focus on using technology developed at The University of Texas at Austin to produce Ytterbium-176. It was an especially poignant focus for Atom Mines, given the isotope was only available in limited quantities in Russia, according to August 2022 KXAN reporting.

Atom Mines developed a laser lab and vacuum chamber lab where they can prepare the material, using light and magnets to atomically purify it. It’s located in a renovated recording studio in southwest Austin, Dorius told the oversight committee.

On Wednesday, CPRIT approved $7.9 million for two recruitment grants. Of those nearly $8 million in grant funds, $2 million will go to Rice University to bring postdoctoral fellow Christina Tringides, Ph.D. to Houston from a public research university in Switzerland. She’ll continue work on a “clinically translatable, hydrogel-based multifunctional electrode array that can be used to treat brain tumors such as glioblastoma multiforme,” the release said.

A $10.6 million New Technologies Company grant was given to Mongoose Bio, LLC, A Houston-based early stage clinical company. It was founded by CPRIT scholar Dr. Cassian Yee.

Mongoose Bio’s work centers on creating precision-based therapies using sold tumor T cell receptor targets, per the release.

Also included in grant allocations Wednesday was the approval of $4.8 million awarded FixNip, Ltd., an Israeli medical device startup. Its work developed a nipple reconstruction implant, used to assist women who are poised to undergo breast cancer surgery “to help regain self-confidence and lessen the burden of breast cancer surgery,” per the release.

More details on CPRIT is available online.

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