EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Illinois Technology Enterprise Center (ITEC)–Evanston at Northwestern University has invested $25,000 in RND Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company located in Palatine, Ill.
RND is dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of proprietary small molecule therapeutics that address unmet medical needs. This is the sixth investment ITEC has made from its pre-seed fund for technology startup companies.
Stephen Gately, president of RND Pharmaceuticals, says that drugs now on the market for other diseases could also be useful in treating cancer. However, drawbacks such as short half-lives, insufficient potency and toxic side effects that result when the drugs are used at higher levels often prevent their use for cancer.
Gately, an adjunct assistant professor in the division of hematology/oncology in the department of medicine at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, is experienced in both large pharmaceutical and high-growth biotech companies. RND chemically modifies existing compounds to improve their activity and reduce or eliminate toxicities. He recently founded RND along with co-founder Stephen Wanaski to bring these new, more effective therapeutics rapidly to cancer patients, giving them more treatment options.
ITEC–Evanston was impressed by the knowledge and experience of the founders, the respect they have from peers and their approach to drug development. “We believe that this approach, using validated chemical techniques to modify FDA-approved compounds already known to have anti-cancer activity, is a great way to reduce the risk inherent in developing new drugs,” said Jeff Coney, director of ITEC–Evanston. “We think this is a fantastic high-growth opportunity, and we are excited to help the company move forward.”
RND’s lead compound with cancer-fighting ability is now in animal trials at The Center for Translational Drug Development, an affiliate of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Ariz. Several additional compounds are in laboratory testing. The company has filed composition of matter patents on the derivative compounds.
The ITEC program was established by the State of Illinois in 2000 to provide services relevant to the formation, growth and retention of early-stage technology companies in Illinois. Initial funding for ITEC–Evanston was based on a $500,000 grant from the state, $150,000 and office space from Northwestern University and $50,000 from the Northwestern University/Evanston Research Park.
Since 2002, Northwestern University has been awarded subsequent grants totaling $1.5 million by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to support continuation of the center and to establish a pre-seed fund for technology startups. ITEC–Evanston is actively seeking new applicants to its Pre-Seed Fund. Managed by the University, the center has served more than 200 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies since its inception.