The National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer has named AbeXXa Biologics, a faculty startup at the University of Texas at Arlington, as one of 40 “Best University Startups 2017.”
The Council is a Washington, D.C.-based association of startup officers from the top U.S research universities.
Jon Weindanz, a UTA biology professor and associate vice president of research, is co-founder and chief science officer of AbeXXa Biologics. He co-founded the company with UTA alumna Debra Wawro, who is CEO.
Weindanz has worked for more than 25 years in the immune-oncology field and has successfully developed two life-science startups.
“Through AbeXXa, we are identifying a new series of biomarkers or targets for cancer from the many thousands of proteins found within a tumor cell.”
“Through AbeXXa, we are identifying a new series of biomarkers or targets for cancer from the many thousands of proteins found within a tumor cell, a new field of research that could potentially result in immunotherapies that prove effective for a broad range of patients,” Weidanz said in a release.
According to the university release, protein molecules are continually synthesized and degraded in any cell, and break up into smaller pieces known as peptides.
The peptides then bind with cell surface proteins called the major histocompatibility complex or MHC that plays an important role in immune response.
In cancer cells, protein compositions are different, and by identifying the specific peptides that bind to MHC in cancer cells, it is possible for researchers to establish disease biomarkers and develop new cancer therapies, the release said.