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West Loop Innovations to foster development of new therapeutics from UIC


West Loop Innovations to foster development of new therapeutics from UIC

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Deerfield Management have partnered to establish West Loop Innovations, LLC. The company will help accelerate the commercialization of therapeutics developed at UIC. Deerfield will provide up to $65 million in translational research funding and commercialization expertise to advance promising UIC drugs.

“Our new partnership with Deerfield Management will help further establish UIC as a top academic research institution and leader in translational medicine,” said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. “We are looking forward to working with Deerfield to nurture and commercialize new therapeutics that will improve people’s lives around the world.”

“One of our core competencies at UIC is drug discovery,” said TJ Augustine, Vice Chancellor for Innovation at UIC. “We have three major drugs in the marketplace, which is more than most other public or even private research universities. Our new partnership with Deerfield not only adds significant translational research funding, but brings significant support for the startup companies that will take UIC’s discoveries and turn them into products.”

Starting this fall, UIC researchers will be able to submit proposals for projects beginning in September of 2019 to be supported by West Loop Innovations. Projects will be approved by a joint committee made up of members from UIC and Deerfield’s scientific leadership team.  Accepted projects will receive a development plan, resources to achieve Investigational New Drug (IND) readiness and operational expertise, as early as March of 2020. Successful projects will have access to additional Deerfield capital, eliminating the need for researchers to raise additional funds to bring their ideas to market.

The advantages of UIC faculty working with West Loop Innovations is that 1) Investigators get to retain leadership role in development; 2) Investigator may receive sponsored research funding to advance underlying science to further create discovery and enhance economic value; 3) Investigators get access to team of experienced drug developers to facilitate IND path and clinical/commercialization strategy; and 4) Deerfield provides scientific, financial and operational support, including all necessary skills and functions for new company formation and financing

The UIC Office of Technology Management works with faculty, staff, and students to advance research, education and economic development. One of its primary functions is to assist in the licensing of innovations. The office currently manages 281 active licenses, including 34 with startup companies.  UIC has three major drugs on the market today, including Prezista, an anti-HIV drug sold by Janssen Therapeutics, Tice BCG, a bladder cancer drug in the Merck portfolio, and Shingrix, a vaccine against the shingles virus approved by the FDA in 2017 and marketed by Glaxo Smith Kline.