The Last Word: Macrocyclics Founder Dr. A. Dean Sherry on His Company’s Impact on Nuclear Medicine

“It’s been a catalytic event—you put materials into the hands of 100 people, they’re going to do 100 different things with them.”

Dr. A. Dean Sherry
Founder of Macrocyclics; Cecil H. and Ida Green Chair Emeritus in Systems Biology at
UT Dallas; and Director of the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern
.…on the
impact that Macrocyclics—”this tiny little company that started on the UTD campus”—has had in the nuclear medicine world, via UT Dallas Magazine.

Dr. Sherry retired from UT Dallas last summer after decades of innovative work as one of its most distinguished chemistry professors. In 1995 he founded Macrocyclics on the campus, a company that continues to produce chemical compounds for the pharmaceutical industry and researchers around the globe.

A holder of 34 patents, Sherry was a pioneer in designing molecular materials for use in medical imaging. His work on chemicals called macrocyclic ligands led to their use in carrying “a payload of metallic radiotherapeutic compounds that can kill cancer cells on contact, while the outside molecular structure can be designed to bind to a specific protein that ensures precise delivery to only diseased tissue,” Amanda Siegfried writes in UT Dallas Magazine.

“Metals have properties that we can exploit to obtain different types of images in the body and to kill diseased cells,” Sherry told Siegfried. “Chelating agents carry metals to various places in the body while protecting it from the metal being deposited just anywhere. We only want these drugs in the body for a short time, and by binding the metal to the chelate, it can be naturally filtered from the body.”

Funded originally through the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, NIH grants, and revenue from some catalog products, Macrocyclics took off as a profitable concern when big pharmaceutical companies began ordering the materials from Sherry and his team.

That led Sherry to open a larger-scale lab off campus to handle the business, and bring on Dr. Garry Kiefer, a chemist at Dow Chemical Co., as Macrocyclics’ CEO. Eventually, Macrocyclics was acquired in 2011 by Orano Med, a subsidiary of a global conglomerate that deploys nuclear materials in numerous applications. It currently operates out of a facility in East Plano.

You can read all about Sherry and his Macrocyclics journey in the UT Dallas Magazine article.

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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