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Envisagenics Awarded $300K NCI Grant to Refine Drug Discovery Tech

NEW YORK — Envisagenics said today that it has received a $300,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to refine its cloud-based RNA splicing analytics platform for the discovery of novel immuno-oncology therapeutics.

The platform, called SpliceCore, is designed to map patient RNA sequencing datasets to a collection of over 5 million alternative splicing errors in order to pinpoint ones that cause disease. Machine learning algorithms are then used to prioritize druggable splicing events and identify novel RNA-based drugs.

With the one-year, Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, Evisagenics will collaborate with researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to adapt SpliceCore for the identification of splicing-dependent tumor-associated ectodomains that may serve as drug targets or diagnostic biomarkers. Envisagenics said the investigators will initially focus on acute myeloid leukemia, but that the approach could potentially be used in other cancers and inflammatory diseases. 

Envisagenics won a $225,000 Phase I SBIR grant to create a prototype of SpliceCore in 2015 and received a $1.5 million Phase II SBIR grant three years later to further develop the platform. Since then, the New York City-based company has used the technology to identify its first preclinical drug candidate, which it said targets a novel isoform present in 65 percent of triple negative breast cancers.

Envisagenics closed a $2.4 million seed financing round in late 2017.