URI-based Company is Developing Promising New Synthetic Molecules for Use in Treating Ovarian Cancer
Providence, R.I., May 12, 2020– The Slater Technology Fund, Rhode Island’s oldest and most active seed-stage investment fund, today announced that it has joined with private angel investors to invest up to $600,000 in Alcinous Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology startup spun out of the labs at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy.
Alcinous Pharmaceuticals (named for King Alcinous, from Homer’s Odyssey), was founded in 2017 by three Ph.D. students at the URI College of Pharmacy—Nicholas DaSilva, Kenneth Rose, and Benjamin Barlock—who saw the promise of harnessing computing power to explore molecular dynamics simulations, providing valuable insights into how molecules interact. In particular, the company has focused its efforts on developing PARP inhibitors (molecules that disable DNA repair mechanisms in cancerous cells). The company is currently working on synthesizing a lead inhibitor that targets a heavily utilized protein found in rapidly dividing and difficult-to-treat cancers.
Since its founding, Alcinous has received funding from the RI Commerce Corporation and Science Technology Advisory Council (STAC), including two $50K Innovation Vouchers and two intern assistance grants to harness local talent. The company has also received support to develop a competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute. Alcinous is being advised by global experts in protein biology, computational chemistry, genomics, and medical oncology, including Geraldine Harriman, the co-founder and chief scientific officer at HotSpot Therapeutics, and former vice president of Nimbus Therapeutics, which was acquired by Gilead in 2016 for $1.2 billion.
“Alcinous has taken a very smart approach to harnessing big data to design and develop cancer therapies,” said Thorne Sparkman, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund. “Under the guidance of Geraldine Harriman, I believe the team is well positioned to build an impressive armamentarium of safe and effective drugs against aggressive forms of cancer.”
Alcinous will use the seed funding to conduct validation studies of its lead inhibitor, a critical first step before undertaking pre-clinical and clinical studies.
“Slater’s funding represents a tremendous vote of confidence,” said Alcinous CEO Nicholas DaSilva. “More than just an investment, Slater’s support is an invaluable partnership and source of mentorship in order to bring this potentially life-saving drug to patients.”
About Slater Technology Fund
The Slater Technology Fund is an evergreen not-for-profit seed fund dedicated to supporting new venture development in Rhode Island. More than two decades ago, Slater launched a platform for seed-stage investing in Rhode Island; today, the organization remains the most active seed-stage investor in the state. Slater has invested in hundreds of technology ventures in the region, achieving multiple exits while also generating economic impact returns in the form of high-wage jobs. For more information, visit www.slaterfund.com.
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