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National Cancer Institute Awards KIYATEC Nearly $2M to Advance Predictive Cancer Diagnostics

September 18, 2014


Congratulations to the KIYATEC team! Greenville based KIYATEC got a nearly $2M boost from the National Cancer Institute to advance predictive cancer diagnostics. The award will allow the company to expand its 3D technology in treating breast cancer and a type of brain cancer. The funded contract has the potential to radically change the future of cancer patient care. KIYATEC’s COO, David Orr, chairs the Upstate SC Alliance bio task force. Congratulations to the entire KIYATEC team! Bio business moves in Upstate South Carolina!

KIYATEC wins $2M cancer research contract | Upstate Business Journal

Official Press Release:


KIYATEC announced today that it has been awarded a $1.975 million, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Over the course of the two year award, KIYATEC will expand its 3D breast cancer model to address two issues at the forefront of cancer therapy strategies: 1) cancer’s interaction with the patient’s immune system (immuno-oncology) and 2) cancer’s interaction with the patient’s blood supply (angiogenesis).  The award will also allow KIYATEC to broaden its technology platform beyond its current use in primary ovarian cancer and breast cancer testing and into glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a type of brain cancer with a five year survival rate that is less than 10 percent.  The funded contract has the potential to radically change the future of cancer patient care.

The NCI contract will further KIYATEC’s mission to arm doctors with drug response profiling (DRP) information that indicates how a patient will actually respond to cancer drugs by growing and treating their live cancer cells in a laboratory.  This will allow the doctor to choose the best drug for that particular patient based on prediction of their response, before the patient starts therapy.  KIYATEC applies a unique approach by using 3D cell culture techniques designed to maximize the accuracy of that prediction, thus also maximizing the patient’s treatment outcome and benefit. The approach also translates to late stage “pre-clinical” drug screening, wherein pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are deciding which drug among a short list of final candidates to advance into a clinical trial for use with patients.

“This contract is exciting because it recognizes the great potential of our technology, team and strategy to have significant impact on drug development and clinical care.” said Matt Gevaert, Ph.D., KIYATEC’s CEO. “The immediate impact will be to use our 3D breast and GBM models to identify the most active therapies prior to being tested in patients, but our ultimate goal is to use our 3D micro-tumors as a diagnostic in a clinical trial setting or for real-time clinical decision-making by oncologists.” The KIYATEC team on the contract is led by Hal Crosswell, MD, KIYATEC’s chief medical officer and contract principal investigator, and Tessa DesRochers, Ph.D., a principal scientist at KIYATEC and the contract’s co-principal investigator.

KIYATEC’s success in this project would expand the number of options oncologists have to more effectively fight cancer alongside their patients.  For example, the growing field of immuno-oncology seeks to reduce cancer associated inflammation or harness the body’s innate ability to generate an effective immune response against tumor cells. Recreating these delicate relationships is complicated and involves creating living, interacting versions of both the patient’s tumor and their immune system, which is difficult to do in conventional 2D and mouse models and is a goal of KIYATEC’s award.  “Clever incorporation of this kind of complex biology, for example inflammation and the immune system, into our collective tool belt has the potential to completely transform how we treat cancer,” said Larry Gluck, MD, medical director of Greenville Health System’s Cancer Institute. “Working in conjunction with the GHS Institute for Translational Oncology Research, KIYATEC is well positioned to help individualize therapy and markedly increase the effectiveness of the therapies we administer.”

The SBIR program provides federal funding to small Research/R&D businesses that have a potential for commercialization.  In September 2013, KIYATEC was awarded an approximately $295,000 Phase I NCI SBIR contract upon which this larger Phase II contract builds.  The Phase II contract is being funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services under Contract No. HHSN261201400019C.

For more information on KIYATEC visit http://www.kiyatec.com/.


KIYATEC prioritizes accurate ex vivo prediction of patients’ response to drug treatment, with a focus on data correlation to human clinical outcomes. The company creates and utilizes live phenotypic 3D cell-based models for drug response profiling.  These models are applied in order to generate information relevant to preclinical testing, clinical trials and clinical diagnostics applications. By accurately predicting patient drug response without ever exposing actual patients to drugs, KIYATEC will create informed drug selection that minimizes clinical trials’ failures and maximizes patient outcomes in the clinic. For more information, please visit www.kiyatec.com or follow KIYATEC on Twitter (@KIYATEC).


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