Indiana University pharma spinoff targeting various cancers, eye diseases raises $2 million

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Dr. Mark Kelley. Photo courtesty of Indiana University.

A startup applying its novel technology platform to treatments for eye diseases and some of the most deadly cancers has just locked up $2 million in private equity investments, according to a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

ApeX Therapeutics, co-founded by IU cancer researcher Dr. Mark Kelley, has developed a platform technology that blocks the APE1/Ref-1 enzyme, which cancer cells use to avoid apoptosis and proliferate. Elevated levels of the enzyme have also been linked to resistance to chemotherapy in cancer.

The company’s APE1 inhibitor technology is being applied to drug candidates for treatment of pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, brain tumors in children, ovarian cancer, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Pancreatic and ovarian cancers are among the most deadly forms of the disease.


ApeX’s new funding comes from six investors, according to the filing. In the past, the startup has been awarded Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Program and SBIR/STTR grants, and also received funding from the Innovate Indiana Fund and Pearl Street Ventures.

CEO Dr. Martin Haslanger declined to provide additional information about the funding or how it will be used.

Based in Indianapolis, ApeX is led by a team of executives who are former Eli Lilly employees, including Haslanger, chief chemist Jim Wikel and board chair John Barnard.

[Photo Courtesy of Indiana University]

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Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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