Dr. Larry Sklar
Larry Sklar

Accelera Diagnostics and STC.UNM, the University of New Mexico’s technology-transfer and economic-development arm, have signed a limited exclusive option agreement for a portfolio of technologies developed at the university’s Center for Molecular Discovery (CMD). The 21 technologies include compounds, repurposed drugs, devices and highly sophisticated methods for analysis and characterization used for the discovery of new treatments for cancer and other diseases.

The inventions were developed by a collaborative group of researchers at the Center, including  Larry Sklar, Bruce Edwards, Angela Wandinger-Ness, Alexandre Chigaev, and Richard Larson from the Department of Pathology; Eric Prossnitz from the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology; Todd Thompson from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; and many other researchers at UNM.

Accelera Diagnostics, a New Mexico-based start-up company, is a spin-out of Sunbelt Technologies LLC, a privately held venture capital firm investing in early stage bio technologies and start-ups. Accelera will develop the CMD technologies for commercial applications. 

“Today marks the beginning of a great relationship between Sunbelt Technologies and the Center for Molecular Discovery at UNM," said Sunbelt Technologies Founder & Managing Member Andy Pham. "Their highly regarded portfolio is a prime example of dedicated University researchers and scientists developing cutting edge medical technologies, and partnering with the private sector to not only realize their vision and generate profits, but importantly, to save lives as well.”

“The Center for Molecular Discovery is one of UNM’s most innovative academic collaborative programs," STC.UNM Chief Executive Officer Lisa Kuuttila said. "The researchers at the CMD are all innovators and experts in a wide range of disciplines at UNM’s Health Sciences Center, and share a commitment to drug discovery for new treatments for many cancers and other major diseases. Their technology pipeline has already produced an impressive number of patented inventions. We are very pleased that Accelera is interested in this portfolio for commercial development.” 

Sklar, a distinguished professor of pathology, the center’s director, and a UNM innovation fellow for his many inventions with high commercial impact, is looking forward to working with Accelera. “The investors and the inventors contributing to this portfolio have a shared vision for making an impact by working together to save lives,” he said.

CMD is a National Institutes of Health-funded drug discovery research lab focused on discovering small molecules as candidates for new drugs and discovering new uses for Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs. 

The Center, which is housed in the new Innovation, Discovery and Training Complex on UNM’s Health Sciences Center campus, was selected by the NIH as one of only nine national molecular discovery centers in the U. S. and has generated more than $50 million in funding to develop its technologies. The Center program is an open system of more than 40 highly collaborative UNM researchers who believe that collaboration is regenerative and empowering.

Under the leadership of Sklar, the center screens compounds as candidates for new treatments, using state-of-the art cytometers, automated systems, and bioinformatics tools. The HyperCyt® System, a sample-handling technology for high-throughput flow cytometry, invented by Sklar and Edwards and licensed to local start-up Intellicyt for manufacturing and sales worldwide, enables the CMD to test hundreds of different cell types against hundreds of thousands of compounds for potential drug candidates at a rate that is 30 times faster than commercial cytometers. 

The Center for Molecular Discovery believes the next big outcomes of its research and discovery of new and repurposed drug candidates will lead to new treatments of disease and personalized treatment for individual patients.