LAFAYETTE, N.Y. — Ichor Therapeutics, located at 2521 Route 11 in LaFayette, on Thursday announced plans to expand its operation.
The firm also heralded the formation of Grapeseed.Bio, which it describes as a life-science “strategic fund and accelerator program.”
Ichor is also partnering with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) in Syracuse to train graduate students in researching drugs that could combat age-related illnesses.
Ichor (pronounced EYE-core) Therapeutics is a biotechnology company that develops therapeutic interventions for age-associated disease.
“I want to share a series of three new initiatives that are being pursued by Ichor Therapeutics that I think are going to be very valuable in helping to grow the region,” Kelsey Moody, CEO at Ichor Therapeutics, said in his remarks at the announcement outside the Ichor office.
Ichor Therapeutics is “arguably the most successful” life science start-up in Central New York, having raised millions to support various translational research programs since its founding in 2013. “It continues to double in size annually,” according to a news release about Grapeseed Bio posted Wednesday on its website.
Ichor is purchasing a 5,400-square-foot building just north of its 8,400-square-foot office on Route 11, Moody said in a response to a question from a BJNN reporter.
“We’ve closed a $2 million infrastructure investment that will allow us to grow our company to 13,000 square feet and put on an additional 14 full-time employees… Our goal with this is to be able to partner with higher [education] institutions and other early-stage companies to help them move promising technology from a discovery stage and into an actual product pipeline and get that to the clinic,” said Moody.
Ichor has secured the funding for the expansion from its “founding investor who’s a self-made millionaire and entrepreneur in the United Kingdom,” Moody said in response to another question from the group of reporters covering the announcement.
Petersen Cor Associates, LLC of Van Buren will handle the construction work on the project.
Ichor has also created an investment fund called Grapeseed Bio, a seed fund that will support companies that have “very early, probably non-fundable, early-stage ideas,” said Moody.
Besides his role as Ichor Therapeutics CEO, Moody is also a managing partner of Grapeseed Bio.
Ichor Therapeutics has earmarked $1 million in funding for the program, the firm said in its news release about the fund.
Through this program, life-science entrepreneurs receive up to $100k in seed funding, technical training, full access to Ichor’s research laboratory, and mentorship in exchange for equity.
“To kick start this program, we’ve actually done a $75,000 placement in a virtual biotech company out of Texas called Repair Biotechnologies, which is doing some excellent work in the treatment of atherosclorosis and also reversing age-associated loss of immune function,” said Moody.
Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls.
The Texas firm plans to move to LaFayette and work with Ichor and occupy its laboratory “to move their programs forward.” The firm plans to bring two or three full-time employees for its work with Ichor, according to Moody.
Ichor, SUNY-ESF partnership
The educational component of the partnership will occur at SUNY-ESF, where students will focus on biochemistry, chemistry, or bioprocess engineering, according to an ESF release. Their laboratory research will primarily happen at the Ichor facilities.
The scientific study of human aging has “exploded” in recent years, driven by a “growing understanding” of age-related disease and associated molecular pathways. The use of drugs for targeted purposes, such as selectively destroying toxic senescent (aging) cells, has been identified as a “method” for increasing mammalian lifespan. It’s resulted in a “demand for qualified,” post-graduate-level scientists to support “emerging pharmaceutical companies, such as Ichor Therapeutics,” ESF said.
“This initiative will allow graduate students to leverage their work experience at Ichor Therapeutics with the scientific expertise of the world-class faculty at ESF. This represents an ideal industrial-academic collaboration,” Chris Nomura, VP of research at ESF, said in the school’s news release.
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