Buffalo, NY has grown its life science industry.

Image of Buffalo for article on local biotech.

Buffalo NY, the second largest city in New York State, is known as the home of delicious Buffalo chicken wings, the Buffalo Bills and legendary snow storms. I was a freshman at UB during the infamous “blizzard of ‘77” where we jumped off the third floor of the Katherine Cornell theatre into 15 foot show drifts (spread eagle landing). And Duff’s in Amherst, not the Anchor Bar, was our go-to wing joint, (suicide wings and Labatt’s beer).  

In the past few decades, it has also become the home to some interesting and innovative biotech companies.  With a special focus in immuno-oncology companies, I have highlighted some of the standouts below.

According to esd.ny.gov, New York is growing its life science industry through a broad range of economic development programs and public-private partnerships, supported by the state’s award-winning research talent. And through its $620 million Life Science Initiative, New York is expanding the state’s ability to commercialize research and spurring the growth of a world-class life science research cluster.

OmniSeq, is a company helping cancer patients find and access the drug or trial that’s right for them. They do this through molecular sequencing and first-of-its-kind comprehensive immune profiling, as well as pharmaceutical services.  With LabCorp, they have launched OmniSeq INSIGHT℠. This innovative tool – which is offered exclusively to U.S.-based physicians by Integrated Oncology, a member of the LabCorp Specialty Testing Group, and biopharmaceutical customers globally through Labcorp Drug Development – enables medical professionals to identify appropriate treatments specific to a patient’s cancer and immune profile.

For-Robin, Inc, is named in honor of the founder’s sister who died at age 31 of breast cancer.  It is an antibody immunotherapy company whose primary mission is developing treatments for breast and lung cancer patients. Their proprietary technology (monoclonal antibody, JAA-F11 and humanized variants, hJAA-F11) targets all breast and lung cancer cell subtypes including triple negative breast cancer where no targeted therapy currently exists. For-Robin is developing hJAA-F11 for adjunct therapy of breast and lung cancer either directly or as antibody-drug conjugates.

Athenex is a global biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer. Their mission is to become a global leader in bringing innovative cancer treatments to the market and improve health outcomes.  The company has a robust pipeline for solid tumors, neuroblastoma, actinic keratosis, metastatic breast cancer, angiosarcoma, neoadjuvant breast cancer and gastric cancer.

Tactiva Therapuetics –  Current ACT approaches in immunotherapy focus primarily on developing anti-tumor CD8 T cell responses while overlooking the critical role of helper CD4 T cells. Tactiva utilizes a unique class of CD4 T cells that not only enhance the anti-tumor function of CD8 T cells, but also exhibit a capacity to directly target the tumor cells.

OncoTartis, Inc. Founding IP came from Prof. Andrei Gudkov’s laboratory at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY). OncoTartis is exploring a proprietary drug discovery approach called “TARTIS” (TARTIS = TARgeting TISsue).  OncoTartis develops a novel category of anti-cancer drugs directed against tissue-specific targets for a subset of cancers (breast, prostate, ovarian, melanoma and hematological malignancies). Its leading product OT-82 is a nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) inhibitor being developed to treat hematological malignancies.