October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

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Purdue startup lands $30M in funding to commercialize cancer imaging agent 

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

A West Lafayette-based startup founded by Indiana life sciences icon Dr. Philip Low has closed on a $30 million Series C funding round. On Target Laboratories Inc. plans to use the funding to accelerate commercialization of Cytalux, a molecular imaging agent used to illuminate cancer cells during surgery.

Cytalux received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2021 for use in ovarian cancer patients. Just over a year later, the treatment landed a second FDA approval for lung cancer.

On Target Laboratories says the imaging agent enables surgeons to detect more cancer to be removed. Low, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in Purdue University’s College of Science, said surgeons were able to find otherwise undetected cancer tissue in 24% of lung cancer patients during clinical trials.

The Series C round was backed by new and existing investors H.I.G. Capital, The Hurvis Group, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., Pension Fund of the Christian Church, 3B Future Health Fund, Elevate Ventures, and Olympus Innovation Ventures.

“This investment empowers us to accelerate the commercialization of our novel technology, further solidifying our position at the forefront of intraoperative molecular imaging,” On Target Laboratories CEO Ben Lundgren said in a news release. “This financing is another vote of confidence in our mission to illuminate cancer intraoperatively so it can be removed completely.”

Story Continues Below

On Target Laboratories says the funding will not only expedite the commercial launch of Cytalux, but also expand its market presence to benefit more patients and health care providers across the country.

The funding also follows a new technology add-on payment, or NTAP, that was granted by the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services in August. Under NTAP, CMS will provide hospitals with additional payment of up to 65% of the average cost of Cytalux, expanding access to more patients.

Low, who is also Purdue’s Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery, told Inside INdiana Business in January that the university’s support in the company’s efforts has been critical to its success.

“The atmosphere here, where using your knowledge to create something that matters to the public, is not frowned upon,” Low said. “In many other institutions, if you actually try to use your discoveries to create a commercial product, that looks like you’re prostituting yourself…and your scientific colleagues may look down on that because you’re diverting yourself from the pursuit of pure knowledge.”

Low said Purdue has been instrumental in helping him launch seven companies over the course of his career, including Endocyte, which he sold to Switzerland-based Novartis Inc. in 2018 for $2 billion.


Full story: Startup lands $30M in funding to commercialize cancer imaging agent – Inside INdiana Business

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