UNC researchers, spin-off company receive NIH small business grant

July 2, 2008 — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine researcher Dr. Jonathan Serody, in collaboration with local research company TheraLogics, has received an $800,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the treatment and prevention of graft versus host disease.

Serody is the Elizabeth Thomas Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, and co-leader of the immunology program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The two-year NIH Small Business Technology Transfer grant supports cooperative research and development projects between small business concerns and research institutions that have potential for commercialization.

Graft versus host disease, or GVHD, is a common side effect following a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. It occurs when the “new” immune system of a patient who has undergone transplantation for a disease such as cancer attacks its host – the patient’s body.

The grant will fund research to evaluate NF-kappa B blockade as a method of preventing or treating GVHD. NF-kappa B is a protein that attaches to DNA inside cell nuclei and turns genes on and off.

TheraLogics, a Chapel Hill-based company spun out of UNC research, investigates the role of NF-kappa B in diseases such as cancer and muscular dystrophy.

Collaborating with Serody are Albert Baldwin, Ph.D., UNC Lineberger associate director and founder of TheraLogics; Patrick Flood, Ph.D., associate professor in the UNC School of Dentistry and Theralogics’ grants officer; William Zamboni, Ph.D., associate professor in the UNC School of Pharmacy; along with scientists from the University of Minnesota and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash.

UNC Lineberger contact: Dianne Shaw (919) 966-5905, dgs@med.unc.edu
News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596, patric_lane@unc.edu