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Envisagenics Wins $2M SBIR Grant From NCI for Splicing-Based Immunotherapy Target Discovery Platform

NEW YORK – Envisagenics said on Tuesday that it has secured a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Direct to Phase II grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop its AI-based platform for the discovery of novel targets for cancer immunotherapies.

The New York-based biotechnology company said the grant will provide $2 million over two years to help it commercialize its platform, SpliceIO, which complements the previously developed SpliceCore platform for the discovery of splicing drug targets.

"SpliceIO discovers splicing-derived neoantigens for immunotherapies using RNA-seq data as a sole input," Martin Akerman, cofounder and chief technology officer of Envisagenics, said in a statement. "This funding will help scale Envisagenics' target pipeline by enabling validation of IO targets at the protein level, a critical step for advancing candidate targets to the next stage of development."

Envisagenics said it will apply the platform to identify splicing-derived neoantigens in BRCA1/2 carriers at risk for developing breast cancer and develop a high-throughput approach to validate its findings using proteomic data. The grant also enables the company to collaborate with researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The company has previously been awarded Phase I and Phase II grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to develop the SpliceCore software platform and a Phase I SBIR grant from the NCI in 2019 to expand SpliceCore's capabilities for the discovery of splicing-derived neoantigens.