BioCrossroads' more than $8 million Indiana Seed Fund II has announced an investment in an Indianapolis-based company developing a cancer therapy. ApeX Therapeutics will use the funding to continue work on the potential leukemia treatment. ***Editor's Note – A previous version of this story stated Indiana Seed Fund II was investing $8 million into the company. That has been corrected to reflect the fund is valued at more than $8 million. ***
July 24, 2013
Indianapolis, Ind. — BioCrossroads' Indiana Seed Fund II announced today its investment in ApeX Therapeutics, an oncology-focused drug discovery and development company located in Indianapolis. The Indiana Seed Fund II is an $8.25 million early-stage fund focused on identifying, creating and developing the next generation of leading Indiana-based life sciences companies; this is the Fund’s fourth investment this year.
Based on Mark R. Kelley’s, Ph.D., work at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at Indiana University linking the APE1 (or Ref-1) target with certain types of leukemia, ApeX has identified a novel therapy for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most frequent cancer of childhood. Ref-1 is a protein that controls cell growth and cell death, and inhibiting this target causes leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow to die. Ref-1 inhibitors do this by blocking formation of factors essential to leukemia cell growth and survival.
Their Indiana Seed Fund investment will be used to continue the development of the therapy by assessing the safety of the new therapy in clinical trials for adults and children with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia)
“ApeX Therapeutics' executive team is comprised of leading experts and advisors from academia and industry that have come together to advance a platform that serves an unmet medical need in a very delicate population of patients, children,” said David L. Johnson, President and CEO of BioCrossroads. “ApeX is a great example of translational science – taking this important discovery from one of our leading research institutions to its first clinical trial with human patients.”
Despite significant successes in the treatment of pediatric ALL, with high cure rates and long-term survival, significant clinical challenges such as refractory and relapsed childhood leukemia and high relapse rates in adolescent and young adult patients remain a challenge. Refractory and relapsed childhood leukemia is associated with a grave prognosis, both in childhood and in adult disease. ALL remains the second cause of death for children.
ApeX Therapeutics is working to develop a novel anticancer therapeutic agent in the form of oral or injectable medicine to more effectively treat refractory and relapsed childhood leukemia and other tumors,” said Martin Haslanger, Ph.D., CEO of ApeX. “The results of the clinical trials are of particular translational interest since there is un-met medical need for effective therapy of relapse and refractory childhood leukemia.”
ApeX also recently added industry veteran David Broecker to its board of directors. Broecker was President and CEO of Alkermes, a publically traded biotech company in Cambridge, MA and has more than 25 years leadership experience in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries, including establishing several start-up life sciences companies.
The company also recently received a Phase I, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“We have a dynamic group of individuals leading ApeX to the next phase and we are excited for the promising future for the company, and more importantly for the impact our research will have on human lives,” added Haslanger.
For more information about ApeX visit http://apextherapeutics.com/
BioCrossroads (www.biocrossroads.com) advances Indiana’s signature strengths in the life sciences by connecting with corporate, academic and philanthropic partners; facilitating investments in promising start ups and building new enterprises; and educating through conferences, reports and market development knowledge. The initiative supports the region's existing research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development and has formed several new nonprofit organizations, including Indiana Health Information Exchange, Fairbanks Institute for Healthy Communities, BioCrossroadsLINX, OrthoWorx, and Datalys Center.
About the Indiana Seed Fund II
The $8.25 million, return driven Indiana Seed Fund II was launched in April 2012. Managed by BioCrossroads, the Fund is a follow-on to the $6 million Indiana Seed Fund I. The Fund makes investments up to $1 million in early-stage biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic, ag-biotech and health information technology products and platforms.