ITOR creates cancer research innovation zone at GHS


ITOR creates cancer research innovation zone at GHS
June 22, 2011
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Less than a year after being announced, GHS’ Institute for Translational Oncology Research (ITOR) has more than doubled in size with the launch of a 20,000-square-foot “innovation zone” that includes an advanced cancer research laboratory designed to put clinical, industry and academic partners in close proximity to speed the development and implementation of new discoveries.
The first private partner to move into the ITOR research space is KIYATEC Inc., whose novel 3D cell culture technology could be instrumental in quickening breakthroughs in diagnostic discovery and improved cancer care. At a press announcement on Wednesday, SC Launch unveiled that it was awarding an additional $200,000 to KIYATEC, bringing its total investment to $600,000.
A reception and panel discussion on the “Future of Cancer Care” will also be held Wednesday evening in downtown Greenville.
“We are excited to have KIYATEC as our first on-site private partner,” said Joe Stephenson, M.D., medical director of ITOR. “KIYATEC is the perfect example of game-changing innovation that we see as pivotal to helping ITOR succeed in its goal of developing and delivering personalized, innovative cancer therapies and leading-edge diagnostic tools.” ITOR is part of the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center’s Cancer Center, a recognized regional multi-disciplinary center offering research, advanced patient trials and patient-focused care.
“We know that collaboration with leading-edge companies and universities is crucial and building those partnerships will remain a major focus of our institute,” said Stephenson.
For the emerging company, having the on-site resources of ITOR means accessibility to oncologists and real-world insights.
“ITOR is a great test bed for innovation,” said Matthew Gevaert, Ph.D., KIYATEC’s CEO. “We love having the ability to bounce our ideas off clinicians to solidify a better understanding of real-world medical applications of our technology. We look forward to the interaction, fostering dialogue and sparking innovation.”
The advantage of its three-dimensional approach is that it more closely mimics the natural processes of cell activity in the human body. The end result is improved patient specific outcomes and care, cost savings in treatment and drug discovery and a reduction in the use of animals for testing.
“Opportunities to aggressively expand ITOR’s innovation zone and infuse it with new technology infrastructure are being actively explored with public and private partners,” said Jeff Edenfield, M.D., ITOR’s associate medical director. “We expect additional announcements in the months ahead.”
Since 2004, ITOR’s clinical research unit has conducted 12 first in human studies and has collaborated with more than 30 pharmaceutical companies, including Amgen. Phase 1 testing within ITOR’s clinical research unit helped facilitate FDA approval of one of the newest therapies for melanoma. 
In addition to providing laboratory and office space for strategic partners such as KIYATEC, the newly expanded facility within GHS’ Cancer Center provides the foundation for ITOR’s rapidly growing biorepository services platform and its Winn the Fight Tissue Bank. Winn the Fight was founded by family and friends of Karl Winn, who courageously battled cancer until his death in September 2007. In partnership with GHS and ITOR, the program is supporting the development of a state-of-the-art tissue bank that will benefit patients and fuel translational research efforts.
“When ITOR was announced eight months ago, we said it would become a magnet and catalyst for innovation that would strengthen the growing knowledge economy in our region. Today’s unveiling of the ITOR innovation zone and the welcoming of KIYATEC confirms the reality of that vision,” said Sam Konduros, ITOR’s business development director.
Also during today’s press conference, SC Launch honored GHS CEO and President Mike Riordan with its Knowledge Economist Award.
“Today’s events demonstrate some of the best of South Carolina’s growing Knowledge Economy,” said S.C. Research Authority CEO Bill Mahoney. “We congratulate KIYATEC on their continued success and this next chapter in their development and also recognize Mike Riordan for his leadership to bring wonderful ideas like ITOR to fruition. Our investment in KIYATEC has been exponentially rewarded. Not only have we kept this great company in South Carolina, but a new technology has been introduced into the marketplace. We look forward to additional products and innovative research from KIYATEC and the ITOR initiative.”
Since its inception by SCRA in 2006, and with initial funding of $12 million in SCRA earnings, SC Launch has supported and funded 188 companies in SC, helped draw 11 company-relocation “landing parties” to the state, provided business services to 230 early stage companies in S.C. through a Resource Network and helped position emerging S.C. companies to secure more than $130 million in follow-on funding from angel, venture and other private capital sources. SC Launch has been recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for leadership in entrepreneurial support and technology-based economic development.