BLOOMINGTON - The Indiana University Philanthropic Venture Fund has announced plans to invest $500,000 in an Indianapolis-based drug development company. NERx Biosciences says the investment will further development of its first-in-class targeted cancer therapy drug.

NERx Biosciences was founded by John Turchi, a professor at the IU School of Medicine and the Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Katherine Pawelczak, vice president for research at the company, says the targeted drug has created much optimism within the company.

"This drug shows robust, single-agent, anti-cancer activity. Additionally, it has been designed to work with and enhance existing therapeutic regimens to provide effective combination therapy," she said. "NERx is positioned to lead the first-in-class and first-in-human clinical trials with this novel agent."

Pawelczak says the investment will be combined with additional funds the company has raised to complete the preparation of a pre-clinical data package to support an Investigational New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, launched in February, provides capital to faculty, students, alumni and staff at all IU campuses to help further research and innovations into startup companies, according to the university. The investment for NERx Biosciences is part of a $2.2 million bridge round of funding.

"NERx is developing small molecules for cancers that do not respond to current approaches, including immune therapy," said Teri Willey, manager of the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund. "The company is now in position to expand its team to address the risks in clinical development and corporate partnering, and we are glad to be supporting them in doing so."