HSC research helps biopharmaceutical start-up battle cancer

The New Mexico Start-Up Factory announced today that it has launched ExoVita Biosciences, Inc., an early stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing treatments to enlist the body’s own defenses in eliminating cancerous growths.

The company is based on technology developed by Kristina Trujillo, PhD, a research assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. ExoVita has an exclusive option-to-license agreement for the technology with STC.UNM, the university’s technology transfer and economic development organization. 

Trujillo’s research focuses on how cells in normal tissue surrounding breast tumors naturally produce particles called exosomes that are highly toxic to breast cancer cells, but do not affect non-cancerous cells.

“Most people develop  many cancerous growths over the course of their lifetime,” Trujillo says. “But most of these cancers are eliminated by the human body’s intrinsic cancer protection mechanisms. We believe we have discovered one of these mechanisms and are now developing a new type of cancer drug based on that discovery.”

John Chavez, managing director of the New Mexico Start-Up Factory, says the ExoVita launch comes at an exciting time. “The biological therapeutic market is experiencing huge growth right now,” he says. “Additionally, exosomes are at the cutting edge of cancer research. ExoVita is at the forefront of both of these trends, and we are committed to advancing this technology.”     

STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila is pleased that the optioned technology is being funded for development. “It’s a good sign that this new technology has excellent potential to be commercialized for new cancer treatments,” she says. “We are excited that the New Mexico Start Up Factory sees the potential benefits of the technology and is moving forward to maturing the technology through ExoVita Biosciences.”

Richard S. Larson, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice chancellor for the UNM Health Sciences Center and vice chancellor for research, hailed the ExoVita startup as the latest product of an ongoing public-private partnership.

“It is gratifying to have such a strong relationship between the Health Sciences Center and our biotechnology startup community,” he says. “Thanks to this work, we are able to bring discoveries such as Dr. Trujillo’s to commercial potential, ultimately improving health.”

About New Mexico Start-Up Factory, LLC

The New Mexico Start-Up Factory brings to market university and national laboratory research technologies funded by the federal Small Business Innovation Research program through licensing and developing intellectual property and finding the right people to commercialize and lead the company. We work to create strategic plans and partnerships for the new ventures and when ready, stand up New Mexico high-tech companies that are ready for funding. The New Mexico Start-Up Factory has been funded by the New Mexico Angels and a number of the partners in NMSUF are Angels members. For more information on ExoVita Biosciences, Inc., contact NMSUF managing director John Chavez at jchavez@nmangels.com or call 505/660-1046.


As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization of the University of New Mexico, STC.UNM protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring the technologies to the marketplace. We connect companies, entrepreneurs and investors to these technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. For more information, contact Jovan Heusser, STC senior innovation manager, at jheusser@stc.unm.edu  or call 505/272-7908. 

About the UNM Health Sciences Center

The UNM Health Sciences Center‘s mission is to provide an opportunity for all New Mexicans to obtain an excellent education in the health sciences. The UNM HSC will advance health sciences in the most important areas of human health with a focus on the priority health needs of New Mexico communities. As a majority-minority state, the HSC’s mission will ensure that all populations in New Mexico have access to the highest quality health care.

Categories: School of Medicine

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