Tucson Biotech Gets a Nod from the National Cancer Institute to Develop a Treatment for Solid Malignant Tumors

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Local Tucson, Arizona, Biotech Company is Awarded Grant Funds to Develop a Cancer Treatment for Solid Malignant Tumors with Low Oxygen Content. If Successful, Radiation Therapy May Become More Widely Effective in These Previously Treatment-Resistant Tumor Types.

NuvOx Pharma, LLC, a biotechnology firm based in Tucson, Arizona, received a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to fund development of its lead oxygen delivery product, NVX-108. Dr. Jennifer Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of NuvOx, said, “It’s not easy for small companies to get a ‘leg-up’ in this economic climate; thus, we are so pleased that this funding will fully support our team on a project in which we will be able to optimize and preliminarily test our product, NVX-108, against cancer.”

NVX-108 is an oil-in-water emulsion (a stable suspension of small liquid particles evenly dispersed within a second liquid) of an oxygen carrier shown, in some cases, to be more efficient in transporting oxygen than blood. Dr. Johnson went on to say, “Studies to date suggest our product carries oxygen more effectively than other materials that have been investigated for similar purposes.” Although, NVX-108 is said to address a number of medical conditions where low oxygen is a problem, the present NCI award allows NuvOx to focus on treating cancer. Many cancers have low oxygen content due to decreased blood flow and are; therefore, resistant to treatment. The presence of oxygen in tumors is necessary for radiation treatments to inflict harm on cancerous cells. Studies show that if the oxygen content can be sufficiently supplemented in such tumors, their survival abilities are weakened and they become vulnerable to standard radiation treatment. Johnson further stated, “If we are successful in this first phase of the grant we should be in a strong position to obtain additional NCI funding to move NVX-108 closer to clinical trials for treating cancer.”

NuvOx Pharma, LLC is a privately held company founded by Dr. Jennifer Johnson, Dr. Evan Unger and Dr. Terry Matsunaga. Dr. Johnson is also an adjunct professor at the University Of Arizona College Of Pharmacy and Drs. Unger and Matsunaga hold positions at the University Of Arizona College Of Medicine.

For further information contact Dr. Johnson at (520) 624-6688.

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Jennifer Johnson
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