Company in partnership with Moffitt Cancer Center, USF to develop viruses into disease-fighters
TAMPA, Fla. – ViroCure USA, Inc., a spinoff company from Korea's Dankook University, has joined the University of South Florida's Tampa Bay Technology Incubator where it is working with Moffitt Cancer Center and USF researchers on developing human and animal viruses into potential cancer treatments.
ViroCure USA focuses on developing three "good" viruses – a respiratory enteric virus isolated from humans and two additional viruses isolated from rabbits and squirrels – as potential anti-cancer agents and hopes to identify more potential viruses in the coming years. Scientists have considered the use of viruses as cancer fighters since the 1920s.
Manbok Kim, ViroCure's founder and CEO, created a research lab focusing on viruses as anti-cancer agents at Dankook University in 2013 and three years later launched ViroCure as a spinoff company. Working in labs in the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator, ViroCure scientists will be exploring further studies on how the viruses can suppress tumors in humans and animals by infecting the cancer cell.
"Our goal is to identify good viruses hidden in nature and twenty different oncolytic viral or vaccine species for cancer and other therapeutics by 2020 and to offer affordable treatments," Kim said.
ViroCure currently has three potential viruses under development: ReoCure, a human virus that is being tested against gastric cancer; MyxoCure, a naturally occurring virus in rabbits that is being tested in animal tumors; and SquiCure, a naturally-occurring poxvirus in squirrels that shows potential in fighting animal tumors. Researchers are conducting studies on whether the viruses are safe and effective either alone or in combination and what types of cancers might be addressed. "USF's TBTI provides access to critical research equipment and state of the art shared wet lab space to help our resident companies further their important research using the latest scientific equipment," said Valerie Landrio McDevitt, associate vice president for technology transfer and business partnerships.
About the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator
The University of South Florida's Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI) is one vehicle through which USF CONNECT grows successful companies. TBTI supports technology research as a catalyst for economic development and advocates the creation and development of facilities for high-technology companies and related support functions. USF CONNECT focuses on the needs of Tampa Bay's technology and bio/life sciences entrepreneurs throughout the business life cycle, providing the facilities, partners, and resources for successful business development. USF CONNECT offers access to technologies, workforce programs, technology commercialization, critical research equipment, and incubator facilities, adding value and delivering targeted, high level expertise to its member businesses.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is ranked in the Top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, the Florida Legislature designated USF as “Emerging Preeminent”, placing USF in an elite category among the state's 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.