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Biotech Startup Prelude Therapeutics Gets Grant to Triple Its Workforce

8/15/2017 5:49:53 AM

Biotech Startup Prelude Therapeutics Gets Grant to Triple Its Workforce August 15, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

WILMINGTON, Delaware – A small biotech firm will be able to expand its employment after receiving a $400,000 grant.

Prelude Therapeutics, which is housed on the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus, is a privately-held company with a focus on developing therapies targeting chromatin function to treat cancer and rare diseases. The company picked up the grant from the state’s Council on Development Finance. Under terms of the grant, Prelude must hire an additional 23 employees, the Newark Post reported this morning. Michael Chesney, spokesman for the Division of Small Business, Development & Tourism, told the Newark Post that Prelude’s grant is contingent on the hiring. He said the small biotech will not receive any of the funds until it has met the terms of the grant.

Importantly, it’s performance-based, which means they don’t get the money until the jobs are actually created,” Chesney told the Newark Post. “There’s nothing upfront.”

The university’s STAR (Science, Technology and Advanced Research) Center was created in 2009. It is located in a former Chrysler assembly plant, Delaware Online said.

Prelude Therapeutics launched in 2016 as part of the university’s incubator program. The company is helmed by Kris Vaddi, who formerly held senior leadership positions with Incyte Corporation (INCY).

Vaddi told the Newark Post that the company will soon be looking to leave the university-based incubator and look for a new facility for its employees. Prelude Therapeutics currently has about a dozen employees, the Post said.
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“There’s certainly the pressure of expectations, but we are driven by science and the possibility of making a difference in cancer care,” Vaddi said in a statement, as reported by the Post. “If you do good science with clear goals, the rest will happen. I truly hope we can create the next successful biotech company for Delaware.”

Since its launch, Prelude Therapeutics has not publicized much, if any, of its work. Its website only includes information that it is working on chromatin targeting treatments. Chromatin, which is only found in eukaryotic cells, controls gene expression and DNA replication.

Before the launch of Prelude in 2015, Vaddi told Technically Delaware that he was excited to return to the world of startups. During that interview, he said his favorite time at Incyte was when the company was still small with “a hope and a dream in our minds.” Incyte’s two lead products are Jakafi and Iclusig. Jakafi is expected to become a billion dollar drug by 2020. Incyte also has a rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib in its pipeline. Baricitinib is being co-developed with Eli Lilly (LLY). Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected baricitinib over concerns of blood clots.

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