Newswise — Cascade ProDrug Inc. and the University of Oregon have completed an agreement that gives the company exclusive ownership of technology to make medicines that “turn on” in oxygen-starved tissues. The innovation could lead to improved treatments for cancer and other diseases marked by excessive cell growth.

Under the terms of the deal, Cascade ProDrug of Eugene becomes sole owner of a bundle of experimental compounds, technical data and patent rights that previously belonged to Novacea Inc., a publicly traded corporation that merged with Transcept Pharmaceuticals Inc. in February 2009.

Novacea had generated the technology package -- which focuses on a biochemical mechanism known technically as hypoxia activation -- through years of research and development in collaboration with the laboratory of UO professor John Keana, a medicinal chemist who holds 70 U.S. patents and is one of Oregon’s most prolific inventors.

When Novacea decided in 2008 to change its research and development focus to other projects, the UO acquired the technology package to create the nucleus of a new Oregon company. The deal provides the UO with an equity stake in Cascade ProDrug, as well as royalties should patented products reach the marketplace. Cascade ProDrug also provided Transcept Pharmaceuticals a consideration package as part of the agreement.

Cascade ProDrug’s founders are serial entrepreneur Allan Cochrane and August Sick, former Life Technologies Corp. executive. “Cascade ProDrug is delighted to complete this transaction with the University of Oregon, and we’re eager to move forward with further development of this promising technology for hypoxia-activated medicines,” Cochrane said.

“The University of Oregon celebrates the birth of this latest spinout company from our institution’s research and industrial collaboration,” said Rich Linton, the university’s vice president for research and graduate studies. “This is yet another great example of how the university and its world-class research scientists are entrepreneurially engaging with the private sector to create exciting innovations with real potential to benefit Oregon and society.”

About Cascade ProDrug Inc.Cascade ProDrug Inc. is a new drug discovery company developing targeted therapeutics against hyperproliferative diseases. The company’s initial focus is on anti-cancer medicines activated by tumor hypoxia. The platform technology acquired from the UO enables the company to reformulate existing chemotherapy agents with the potential to make them safer and more effective in treating solid tumors. The body of work already completed by Novacea and the UO provides Cascade ProDrug a head start on a series of lead compounds. Cascade ProDrug intends to contract research for final stages of preclinical trials and push toward the filing of an Investigational New Drug with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

About the University of OregonThe University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the 62 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. The UO is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

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