Researchers, Spin-Off Company Receive NIH Small Business Grant

UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine researcher Dr. Jonathan Serody, in collaboration with local research company TheraLogics, has received an $800,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the treatment and prevention of graft versus host disease.

Serody is the Elizabeth Thomas professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, and co-leader of the immunology program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Among those collaborating with Serody are Dr. Albert Baldwin, UNC Lineberger associate director and founder of TheraLogics; Dr. Patrick Flood, associate professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry’s Department of Periodontology, director of the University’s Comprehensive Center for Inflammatory Disorders and grants officer for TheraLogics; Dr. William Zamboni, associate professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy; and scientists from the University of Minnesota and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The two-year NIH Small Business Technology Transfer grant supports cooperative research and development projects between small business concerns and research institutions that have potential for commercialization.

Graft versus host disease, or GVHD, is a common side effect following a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. It occurs when the “new” immune system of a patient who has undergone transplantation for a disease such as cancer attacks its host – the patient’s body.

The grant will fund research to evaluate NF-kappa B blockade as a method of preventing or treating GVHD. NF-kappa B is a protein that attaches to DNA inside cell nuclei and turns genes on and off.

TheraLogics, a Chapel Hill-based company spun out of UNC-Chapel Hill research, investigates the role of NF-kappa B in diseases such as cancer and muscular dystrophy.