U Innovation Celebrates First Public Offering of a University of Miami Spin-Off
U Innovation, home of technology advancement at the University of Miami, is celebrating the first initial public offering (IPO) by a company to evolve from its mission to bring life-enhancing discoveries made by UM scientists to the marketplace. The company, Heat Biologics (NASDAQ: HTBX), raised $27 million to fund clinical trials for its proprietary, unique off-the-shelf ImPACT (Immune Pan Antigen Cytotoxic Therapy) vaccines, aimed at harnessing a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer and infectious diseases.
Developed by Eckhard Podack, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of microbiology and immunology at the Miller School, ImPACT technology is designed to transform human cells into powerful weapons that continually secrete their own antigens to activate a patient’s immune system against a wide range of cancers or other targeted diseases.
Heat Biologics, a clinical-stage immunotherapy company formed in 2008 when U Innovation brought Podack and Seed-One Ventures together, holds the exclusive license to develop and commercialize the ImPACT technology. In July, Podack joined Jeffrey Wolf, President and CEO of Heat Biologics, on the NASDAQ floor to ring the closing bell following the Company’s successful IPO.
“Making novel and potentially life-saving discoveries available to patients that need them is essential,” said Podack, who is a member of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The Wallace H. Coulter Center was pivotal in translating vaccine production from the laboratory to a cGMP facility and was actively engaged in supporting the company’s efforts; the Office of Technology Transfer helped in the complex process of transferring intellectual property to the company for further development and testing in clinical trials.”
The Heat Biologics vaccine for non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for 85 percent of all lung cancers, is entering a Phase II clinical trial. Its ImPACT-based cancer vaccine for bladder cancer is expected to advance to Phase 1/2 human clinical trials later as well.
“Without the work of the Coulter Center and OTT, we may never have known the full potential that we believe the ImPACT therapeutic vaccine platform holds for the treatment and prevention of some of our most challenging and deadly cancers and infections,” Wolf said. “The work underway by UM’s researchers and scientists has the potential to save millions of lives and that would likely be unrealized without the efforts and expertise of the technology advancement team.”
Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School, said, “Heat’s progress is a notable milestone in advancing discoveries made at the University of Miami. Eckhard’s work can now potentially reach more patients much more quickly. This is the promise of U Innovation – a transformation in our ability to create new companies based on discoveries made by our outstanding scientists. The partnership of the Coulter Foundation has been invaluable!”
U Innovation is the umbrella organization for UM’s Office of Technology Transfer, the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research and the University of Miami Life Science & Technology Park. It serves as a bridge between all University faculty working to translate life-enhancing discoveries and know-how into products, treatments, devices and technologies, with commercial entities interested in accessing and advancing innovations.
Under the leadership of Norma Sue Kenyon, Ph.D., Martin Kleiman Professor of Surgery, Chief Innovation Officer at the Miller School and the University’s Vice Provost for Innovation, the U Innovation team provides guidance to researchers from all disciplines as they navigate the path to commercialization, assists in identifying mentors and potential investors, and works with the inventor/innovator throughout the development of their project.