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Utah Life Sciences News & Events

Eris Biotech accepted to Y Combinator

February 8, 2024

Eris Biotech (YC W24) is using unique chemistry to activate cancer drugs only inside tumors. Their treatment targets tumors without poisoning the rest of the body.

Today, cancer therapies largely consist of toxic treatments that wreak havoc on your body everywhere, not just the tumor. It’s a race between who kills you first: the therapeutic or the cancer. Evita Weagel, Ph.D. and Rachel Brog Garlick, who worked on developing cell therapies and drug development in big pharma in their previous roles, know these challenges firsthand. That’s why they started to explore strategies to make therapeutics safer and reduce systemic toxicity— and Eris Biotech was born.

Eris develops drugs that only activate under low-oxygen (hypoxic) environments. These drugs are referred to as hypoxia-activated prodrugs or HAPs. A low oxygen or hypoxic environment is a hallmark of the majority of solid tumors. By delivering active drugs only to the tumor site, we can use more potent drugs without systemic toxicity.

Their first HAP in development is designed to treat mesothelioma, a cancer with <13% survival rate. The drug blocks the communication between the tumor and its surroundings. This lack of communication isolates tumors from essential resources, driving tumor death.

Congrats Evita and Rachel on the launch — and welcome to YC!