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ChristianaCare announces its first small company spin-off to help advance gene editing research


ChristianaCare announces its first small company spin-off: a commercial biotechnology start-up company called CorriXR Therapeutics.

CorriXR Therapeutics is the next big step for ChristianaCare’s Gene Editing Institute to continue its work in cancer treatment research.

The Institute is a subsidiary of ChristianaCare, and works to advance genetic treatment technology.

Their primary focus is currently on using CRISPR genetic technology to treat solid tumors in a lung cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

“It’s a complicated name, but the bottom line is that there are very few if any legitimate treatments for that, other than chemotherapy. And patients tend to develop this resistance quite quickly,” said Eric Kmiec, executive director of the Gene Editing Institute. “We and others identified the gene that makes you refractory, or resistant, to these kinds of therapies. And so we’re going to be using the CRISPR genetic tool to disable that gene in the tumor, and allow the patient that’s on chemotherapy to have a better response.”

In addition to his work with the Institute, Kmiec also serves as CEO of CorriXR Therapeutics. He says the start-up will work to fund and commercialize the Institute’s research.

“I think about it as running on parallel tracks. CorriXR’s job is to commercialize the clinical discoveries that go on at the Gene Editing Institute. And the Gene Editing Institute, in its partnership, has an obligation to start to look at the next targets and develop that pipeline,” explained Kmiec.

CorriXR has licensed the patents and technology for the application of gene editing on cancer treatment from ChristianaCare, and will allow ChristianaCare to continue its patient-first treatment approach while pursuing innovative research through the proper channels

“It’s expensive to move through clinical trials, and we thought the best way to do this was for us to form a spin-out company and to let other folks invest in the technology, with ChristianaCare having a made-ownership of the company as it goes along,” said Kmiec.

The Institute hopes that if their clinical trial on squamous cell carcinoma treatment is successful, CorriXR will allow them to more easily expand the treatment pipeline to focus on other hard-to-treat cancers in the future.

Kmiec says thyroid cancer and melanoma seem to be the next two they will tackle.

“If things go well, we certainly feel we have a broad based platform approach and another tool for the anti-cancer toolbox,” said Kmiec. “And we’ll provide oncologists the opportunity to choose that, in combination with other things, and focus on what’s best for the patient.”

CorriXR Therapeutics was funded with $5 million from ChristianaCare and Brookhaven Bio, and the start-up’s team is made up of biotechnology executives, scientists and clinicians.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and a graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021