pHLIP ® is a transport vehicle for either imaging cancer cells or delivering a therapeutic agent.

Detecting and Treating Diseases

for the enhancement of treatment efficacy and reduction of side effects. Reshetnyak says, “The bench-to-bedside transition is very challenging. It all starts with innovation and discovery, and then it takes years of testing, refining, and development before an agent may be injected into humans.” Andreev adds, “No doubt, it is extremely rewarding for us and for everyone working in our labs to monitor progression of the technology, which potentially might make a difference in diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.”

URI physics professors Oleg Andreev and Yana Reshetnyak know from firsthand experience the trials and tribulations of discovery, invention, patents, and forming a company. The pair, along with Professor Donald M. Engelman, Yale University, and Professor Jason Lewis, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), founded their company pHLIP, Inc in 2014. They signed licensing agreements in 2015 with URI and Yale, and have 23 patents. The universities own the patents, but the company was granted the exclusive rights for development and commercialization of pHLIP® technology. pHLIP® stands for pH (Low) Insertion Peptide, and Reshetnyak and Andreev say the peptide is a transport vehicle for either imaging cancer cells or delivering a therapeutic agent. The company is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and then will embark on clinical trials at MSKCC in 2019. The partners anticipate injection of two pHLIP® agents into humans for diagnostic imaging and fluorescence- guided surgery in 2019. The agents will be first in the classification for imaging of tissue acidity in the body. Also, pHLIP®-based therapeutic agents are underway to clinical trials for delivery of therapeutics specifically to cancer cells

(left to right) Professor Yana Reshetnyak, Dr. Dhammika Weerakkody, Hannah Visca, Dr. Anna Moshnikova, Professor Oleg Andreev, and Gregory Slaybaugh.

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