George Mason University

News at Mason

Multi-million dollar financing helps bring Mason research to cancer patients

July 1, 2016   /   by Michele McDonald

A cancer research company co-founded at George Mason University has received $8.7 million in financing from a private equity firm, an infusion of capital that will connect more patients with ground-breaking personalized cancer treatments  

Four years ago, Mason researcher Emanuel “Chip” Petricoin helped found Perthera Inc., a McLean-based company, which uses technology to pinpoint cancer treatments in individual patients. This process is known as precision cancer analysis. Now, the company is getting a boost from Pilot Growth Equity, a technology growth equity firm that sees great potential in this technology.

The financial backing of the company shows how public universities are rapidly becoming incubators for smart ideas. Such innovation, which was once isolated to the lab, is now creating opportunities for successful businesses that solve serious problems and generate economic growth.

“We want our work to be meaningful and help people,” said Petricoin, co-director of George Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine. “By partnering with private investors, we can realize the promise of precision medicine research to help patients receive the best treatment for them at the bedside.”

Petricoin co-founded Perthera with investor Dendy Young, a managing partner at private equity firm McLean Capital LLC.

“Our region is becoming one of the world’s centers of gravity for precision medicine, which is going to be enormous, and Mason is deeply involved in that space and has established relationships with critical other organizations such as Inova,” Young said.  “So, we have the faculty and expertise that is vital to guide and manage the opportunity into reality.” 

The business community can expect additional companies to be created from ideas cultivated at Mason.

“Perthera is an excellent example of how George Mason researchers collaborate with world-class entrepreneurs to bring ground-breaking innovations to market,” said Sean Mallon, who joined Mason in April in the newly created position of associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation. Prior to coming to Mason, Mallon oversaw the portfolio of more than 100 companies when he was senior investment director for CIT GAP Funds, a seed- and early-stage technology venture fund within the Center for Innovative Technology.

“Mason is a world-class research university that works hard to facilitate high-potential entrepreneurial ventures that are led by students, faculty and alumni,” Mallon said.

Mason researchers are working to bring what they learn in the lab to patients, Petricoin said.

“Our laboratory is deeply involved in a number of precision medicine trials that directly impact cancer patients in Northern Virginia and all around the United States,” Petricoin said. “Mason, through partnerships with Inova and other medical systems, is committed to being a biomedical research engine for the region with a focus on precision medicine.”