BATON ROUGE, La., Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- K94 Discoveries, Inc., (K94) a new biotechnology company applying hormone receptor-targeting technology to develop novel cancer therapies, today announced that it has closed a $300,000 seed financing. The financing was provided by BVM Capital, LLC, through its Themelios Ventures II, LP fund. Ross P. Barrett, Managing Partner of BVM Capital, is interim President of the new company.
K94 Discoveries is developing cancer therapies based on proprietary hormone receptor-targeting discoveries by scientific founder William Hansel, Ph.D., a Professor at the William Hansel Cancer Prevention laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana State University (LSU). Dr. Hansel found that the luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) receptors present in large numbers on the surface of a wide variety of cancer cells can be harnessed to target cancer drugs. A version of this technology is also embodied in the targeted cancer drugs being developed by Esperance Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage company partly based on Dr. Hansel's inventions
K94 researchers are using a similar approach to develop targeted drug conjugates by combining LHRH with the naturally-occurring plant extract curcumin, which has attracted interest as a potential anticancer agent for decades. Preclinical studies indicate that curcumin exhibits multiple anticancer properties, and in laboratory tests it promotes cancer cell death and slows the growth of tumors. However, curcumin's therapeutic potential has been limited by its poor solubility, which the company's novel drug conjugates are designed to overcome. K94 is initially focusing on pancreatic cancer and is also conducting research in ovarian and breast cancer.
"We are fortunate in Louisiana to have access to extraordinary scientists such as Dr. Hansel, who think 'outside the box' in devising new ways to combat cancer," commented Mr. Barrett. "Early data suggest that combining his pioneering work in hormone receptor-targeting therapies with novel anticancer agents could be a promising approach, and we welcome the opportunity to help advance this technology to the next stage."
Pennington's William Hansel Cancer Prevention research unit was established in 2005 to honor Dr. Hansel's contributions to the field. Cancer researchers at LSU's Feist Weiller Cancer Center in Shreveport are also conducting research for K94 Discoveries.
Dr. Hansel noted, "The name K94 is in honor of the men of Company K of the 94th Division in General Patton's Third Army, which I commanded in World War II. Their willingness to take on big challenges and confront daunting risks inspire me to persevere in the fight against cancer. I have long been intrigued by the anticancer potential of certain naturally-occurring compounds such as curcumin, and look forward to assessing its cancer-fighting potential in combination with the powerful hormone receptor-targeting technology we discovered here at LSU."
Toxicology testing on the company's lead compounds is expected to commence soon, with human clinical trials targeted for 2015.
About K94 Discoveries, Inc.
K94 Discoveries is a biotechnology company developing novel targeted anticancer drugs based on discoveries by scientists at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center and research at the Feist Weiller Cancer Center. The company's initial product is a drug conjugate that combines the naturally-occurring anticancer substance curcumin with luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) that targets the hormone receptors present in large numbers on the surface of cancer cells.
About BVM Capital LLC
BVM Capital LLC is a Southeast-based venture capital firm that provides equity capital to early and expansion stage companies with proprietary technology platforms or unique products addressing large markets. The partners of BVM Capital manage assets of more than $40 million allocated to three funds: generalist fund Louisiana Ventures, LP and Themelios Ventures I and II LP, which are focused on life science and healthcare opportunities across the Southeast. For more information, visit www.bvmcap.com.
SOURCE K94 Discoveries, Inc.