Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the RNA technology invented at CNSE will be developed by Albany-based Hocus Locus, LLC with a recent investment from Eastern New York Angels. Once developed, the technology will provide medical researchers and healthcare providers with a new diagnostic tool to aid in the detection of cancer and other diseases. Its creators say the technology could also lead to the development of new treatments for those diseases.
“Early detection, particularly when it comes to cancer, can mean the difference between life or death,” said Governor Cuomo. “In New York, we have created the technology to make that difference and now, more than ever, it is important that we highlight the significance of regular check-ups and early treatment. This state is becoming a hub for cutting edge technology, and companies like Eastern New York Angels are recognizing our full potential and investing in our local businesses. It is yet another testament to the power and ingenuity of New York’s world-class researchers, who are tirelessly working to create a better state.”
“SUNY researchers across New York continue to imagine and create new innovations every day that help people live healthier lives and fight serious illnesses,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “We are deeply proud of their work and committed to ensuring that ground-breaking research conducted at SUNY gets the support it needs to thrive, from its inception on campus to its commercialization in today’s marketplace.”
“This is New York’s innovation ecosystem at work,” said Dr. Tim Killeen, Research Foundation president and SUNY vice chancellor for research. “We’re grateful for the commitment made by Eastern New York Angels to support this research and catalyze the commercialization of this pioneering technology.”
“This investment in novel nanobioscience technology is testament to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s innovation and education blueprint, and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s ‘Power of SUNY’ initiative,” said Dr. Alain E. Kaloyeros, CNSE Senior Vice President and CEO. “It further underscores New York’s recognition as a hub for leading-edge technologies, highlighted by the strong collaborations between academia and industry at the NanoCollege.”
“The world-class nanotechnology research conducted at CNSE continues to break new ground in addressing society's most critical challenges, including disease detection, treatment and prevention,” said Dr. Michael Liehr, CNSE Executive Vice President of Innovation and Technology and Vice President for Research. “Similarly, it is providing opportunities for one-of-a-kind education for our students, and spurring new opportunities for private investment and high-tech job growth in New York State.”
The technology being developed, sxRNA, reports whether a particular RNA molecule is present inside a cell, acting as a sentinel for whether the cell is producing a particular protein. It is the product of research by Scott Tenenbaum, associate professor of nanobioscience at CNSE, and Ted Eveleth, CEO of Hocus Locus, a biotech start-up company out of the University at Albany.
“It’s a platform technology that has a wide range of applications,” said Tenenbaum. “When we pitched our idea, the angel investors were very excited. They seemed to have a visceral feel for it. They could see the potential to have a positive impact on many health problems.”
“We are grateful for this new funding, which will allow continuity for Hocus Locus to develop the technology into marketable products,” added Eveleth.
The proof-of-concept for this technology was first funded through the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF) and several grants from national agencies. With initial development showing positive results, Hocus Locus was able to attract investment from Eastern New York Angels, which provides seed funding to early stage companies in eastern New York.