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Duquesne Enters Largest Licensing Deal for Cancer Treatment Drugs

Pittsburgh Business Times

Nearly 50 patents, developed quietly in the labs of Duquesne University, could hold big potential for the treatment of cancer.

Working with Flag Therapeutics Inc., a Raleigh, N.C.-based startup run by Duquesne alum Frank Sorgi, the university has entered into a licensing agreement for two novel classes of duel-acting, water-soluble drugs developed by Duquesne professor Aleem Gangjee for the treatment of cancer.

Representing the largest licensing deal in Duquesne's history, the agreement provides Flag with the exclusive worldwide rights for the two families of patents, extending beyond 2035. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Preclinical studies suggest that both compounds hold the potential to treat multiple types of cancer, including some ovarian, breast, lung, brain and pancreatic cancer. The drugs have not been tested on humans, which will take significant investment.

"This licensing agreement for a major anticancer agent portfolio is to a company that we feel can take these compounds and develop them into future therapeutics that could benefit many cancer victims," Alan W. Seadler, associate provost for research and technology for Duquesne, said in a statement. "We are particularly pleased to be working with a graduate from our pharmacy school."

One class is the first compounds ever to combine dual actions of antiandoigenic/antitublin compounds into one molecule, taking advantage of the narrow window of time when the blood supply that supports tumor growth can be pharmaceutically suppressed. The second class of drugs, folate-targeted anti-cancer compounds, are designed to physically and chemically block tumor growth, selectively killing and targeting tumor cells.

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Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.