AUT Professor secures spot in Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS
An AUT Engineering Professor who developed a technology that could potentially cure cancer has become the first in Australasia to secure a spot in the world-leading Johnson & Johnson Innovation ,JLABS (JLABS) in Houston, TX (JLABS @ TMC).
Kode Technology, which was developed by Professor Steve Henry, is a platform of shape based paints that can make living things act differently. The most high-profile use of the technology is in a cancer therapy AGI-134 which changes the appearance of cancer cells, making them take on the appearance of an animal cell, which the immune system already knows how to reject. This kills the cancer that was injected but more importantly teaches your body how to find and kill any other tumours. AGI-134 has successfully completed pre-clinical studies and is targeted to start Phase I/II trials early in 2018.
Professor Henry says securing a spot at JLABS will allow for further uses of Kode Technology to accelerate.
"This marks expansion of our business through our first international subsidiary. Over the first year our priority is to build up our presence in the US and ensure that people know the incredible possibilities our platform provides. One of the great things about Kode is we are a technology that a variety of different industries can use. We don't make the products- but we license the technology to others to create things that will change people's lives."
To secure a spot at JLABS, Kode Biotech had to prove it had a compelling and credible technology, addressed an area of significant unmet medical or market need, and has a strong team and financial record. Kode Biotech's operations are located at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS at the Texas Medical Center (JLABS @ TMC). JLABS @ TMC is a 34,000 square-foot life science innovation center, located in Houston, TX. The labs provide a flexible environment for start-up companies pursuing new technologies and research platforms to advance medical care. Through a "no strings attached" model, JJI does not take an equity stake in the companies occupying JLABS and the companies are free to develop products - either on their own, or by initiating a separate external partnership with JJI or any other company.
"For us to be selected by JLABS, gives enormous credibility to the potential of our technology. It shows that New Zealand companies can leverage themselves to the world. Most people think you have to leave New Zealand to be successful. We are proof you can do it with a foot still in New Zealand," says Professor Henry.
Much of Kode Biotech's core biological research is undertaken by AUT students and postdoctoral researcher's at its city campus. In time it is anticipated that AUT students will also be able to work from JLABS on US collaborative research projects.
Professor Enrico Haemmerle, Dean of Engineering and director of AUT's Center for Kode Technology Innovation (KTI), says it's very rewarding to see that a technology created by an AUT Professor is getting the attention of such a major player.
"AUT has for a long time recognised the potential of this extraordinary technology, so we are thrilled to see that it is now catching the attention of people on the other side of the world. This opportunity is huge for our academics and students. It means that they can conduct research on the other side of the world with state-of-the art equipment and with some of the best minds in medicine and technology. Their research is valuable and has impact. The ability to access federal research funding in the United States will allow this technology to expand beyond even what we think is possible and hopefully continue to change people's lives for the better. I couldn't be more proud of Steve and this major achievement."
| Press Release by AUT on April 15, 2017