DepYmed, a Long Island company developing a potential treatment for breast cancer, has received $100,000 from Accelerate Long Island and the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund.
The nonprofit economic development group Accelerate provided half the funding, making the 10th and final grant from its $500,000 pool funded by the state’s business-aid agency, Empire State Development, Accelerate announced this week. The other half came from the LIETF, a startup seed fund.
Founded in 2014 as a joint venture between Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Manhattan-based Ohr Pharmaceutical Inc., DepYmed is developing a new drug called Trodusquemine that it hopes will one day treat HER2-positive breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease.
In January, DepYmed plans to move into office space in Farmingdale’s Broad Hollow Bioscience Park, which hosts biotech startups.
“It takes a lot of time, it takes a tremendous amount of resources to bring any drug product to the market or to patients,” said Andreas Grill, DepYmed’s chief executive and a bioentrepreneur in residence at the Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University.
The new investment, Grill said, “validates the company and it gives other people the feeling that, ‘Hey, this company is getting funding, we might want to invest in it, we might want to take a look at it.’ ”
What’s more, he said, at places like the bioscience park in Farmingdale and Stony Brook’s biotechnology center, “you’re bringing the scientists and the entrepreneurs together,” helping to foster more biotech and pharmaceutical innovation.
DepYmed, which now counts Grill as its sole employee, intends to hire one or two more people next year, Grill said.
The new drug targets an enzyme that regulates growth and metabolism. By inhibiting the enzyme, the drug appears to reduce the growth of tumors and prevent them from spreading throughout the body.
The company is preparing to begin early-stage clinical testing at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute at Monter Cancer Center in Lake Success.
The drug could eventually help treat other forms of cancer, as well as diabetes and obesity, Grill said.
“If the discovery that is underpinning this startup proves to be successful, it could really be revolutionary in the area of treating breast cancer” and other diseases, said Mark Lesko, executive director of Accelerate. DepYmed’s research and its collaboration with Cold Spring Harbor and North Shore-LIJ “could result in the next large pharmaceutical company on Long Island,” Lesko said. “You’ve got a great idea, and you’ve got institutional partners that are impressive, and that mix makes it an attractive investment.”
Accelerate aims to launch a new funding source early next year, said Lesko, who is working as a consultant for the nonprofit group as well as executive dean of Hofstra University’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
The new pool of funds will include $1.5 million from Empire State Development, as well as investments from sources including Setauket-based Jove Equity Partners and Roslyn Heights-based Topspin Partners, Lesko said.