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University of Arizona professors aim to cure cancer with new technology

Cancer-fighting drug company, Reglagene, does research at the University of Arizona.
Posted at 6:05 AM, Dec 16, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Better tomorrows. Those two works are boldly displayed at the entrance of the University of Arizona's medical research building. For one group of scientists that work inside, a "better tomorrow" is a world without cancer.

"That's what we want to do. That is the dream: to irreversibly cure people's cancer," said Richard Austin, the CEO and Co-Founder of Reglagene.

It's a dream Austin, Laurence Hurley and Vijay Gokhale started chasing togehter in 2016, but something they have been passionate about and researched for far longer.

"My father died of pancreatic cancer in 1975. His last words to me were, 'This is a horrible disease. You need to do something about it,'" said Hurley, a UofA Professor and CSO of Reglagene.

The trio aims to cure cancer through the company they created and call Reglagene. They built a technology to fight cancer that targets genes that become resistant to other therapies.

"The idea is that, if you can, you find a small molecule, that you can actually give to patients orally that will specifically bind to that target and somehow change it's function," said Hurley.

The idea is now patented through Tech Launch Arizona. The organization protects inventions made at the University of Arizona.

"We take time to actually understand what the startup project needs. Then we try to team them up with people that can help them move that project forward," said Tech Launch Arizona Assistant Vice President, Doug Hockstad.

In the future, the company wants to take their drug to clinical trial, and eventually have it approved to save lives.

"Tucson is not normally thought of as a hub for biotechnology. We've been able to build this company, here in Tucson, because of the support of the community that we are so fortunate to enjoy," said Austin.