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Dr. Gang Zheng co-founds NMIN’s 7th spin-off company

In July 2023, NMIN researcher Dr. Gang Zheng co-founded the new biotechnology company Nanogenix, NMIN’s seventh spin-off company.

The company’s novel photo-immune therapy platform, based on the porphysome technology discovered by Dr. Zheng and developed in his lab, aims to change treatment prospects for cancer patients, with an initial focus on skin and pancreatic cancers. NanoGenix’s proprietary platform encompasses direct therapeutic, diagnostic imaging and drug delivery agents.

“Our novel nanotechnology uses naturally occurring lipid-based particles—porphysomes—that are modified to selectively destroy tumours without damaging normal tissue,” says Dr. Zheng. “Recent findings suggest this therapy may also induce a positive immune response that enhances its anti-cancer effect—effectively, harnessing the bodies’ immune system to help battle the cancer.”

Because light is required to activate the therapeutic effect of porphysomes, the treatment requires a medical lighting device. This element of the therapy is being developed by company co-founder Dr. Brian Wilson, who is a world expert in laser biophysics and optical technologies for cancer detection and treatment.

“NMIN’s contributions to the launching of NanoGenix were multifold,” comments Dr. Zheng. “Infrastructure-wise, we gained access to our own porphysome GMP facility through NMIN’s PharmaCore, we benefited from collaborations with NanoCore, and, through NMIN’s strategic initiative program, we used the eHTA core facility to assess the viability of translating our technology into the US market.

“Additionally, NMIN project funding provided us the radio-theranostic space in which we were able to demonstrate different applications of radionuclides, which was key to our progress. Finally, NMIN’s training support was fundamental, as evidenced by the instrumental role of NMIN HQP Michael Valic in driving the translation of our technology.”

The company aims to initiate clinical trials of its lead cancer therapeutic in mid- to late-2025.

The company was launched out of University Health Network’s (UHN) new ventures pipeline and was co-founded by Drs Zheng and Wilson, together with Michael Valic, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, who is the company’s Director of Scientific Operations. The company’s development was also supported by the Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP), the Innovation Acceleration Fund of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, and the Terry Fox Research Institute.

Read the press release | Read the UHN announcement