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Penn State Hershey research developments lead to launch of oncology company

Technology developed at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute led to the recent launch of a new start-up company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative new therapies for late stage melanoma and other skin cancers.

At the core of the work done by Melanovus Oncology, Inc., is the discovery of several new therapies that hold significant promise for melanoma patients. The therapies, based on work started at the College of Medicine and the Cancer Institute, use a unique approach that regulates the processes leading to tumor development and could result in slowing tumor growth, more effective tumor inhibition and a decrease in the probability of developing drug resistance.

Gavin P. Robertson, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer of Melanovus Oncology, Inc., is a professor of pharmacology and dermatology at Penn State College of Medicine, and director, Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.

“Our research has focused on discovering and developing new alternatives for patients with melanoma and other skin cancers,” Robertson said. “The new programs being launched by the College of Medicine through our Office of Technology Development to support start-ups and bring these compounds into the market are very exciting, and we are fortunate to be part of the culture of innovation at Penn State Hershey.”

The launch of Melanovus represents a surge in new licensing opportunities and entrepreneurial support activity happening at Penn State Hershey.  

“The Office of Technology Development is committed to supporting faculty members' efforts to license their work and form spin-offs related to their work that holds significant potential to impact leading causes of disease,” says Keith Marmer, D.P.T., M.B.A., associate dean for research innovation and director of the Office of Technology Development at the College of Medicine. “This latest start-up highlights the value of our entrepreneurial support system at Penn State College of Medicine, including the Executive-In-Residence program that allows us to identify and tap the expertise of experienced industry executives and entrepreneurs.”

The College of Medicine recently received a $425,000 Discovered in PA, Developed in PA (D2PA) grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development to support the Executive-in-Residence program and other initiatives to support the technology development efforts of college faculty members.

With the support of the Executive-in-Residence program, Melanovus is led by CEO Thomas S. Lytle, M.B.A, an experienced pharmaceutical and biotechnology executive who has held senior commercialization positions at leading companies including Pfizer and Amgen.

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