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Chicago Tribune: Student Team Makes Startup Finals

Team to develop personalized therapy for breast and ovarian cancer and pitch investors

CHICAGO --- A Northwestern University student-led startup is a finalist in the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, reported a story in the Chicago Tribune.

Through the startup, called Orpheden Therapeutics, the team will produce a patented, personalized therapy that will engage the immune system to fight ovarian and breast cancer.

"We can use these immune cells and tell them what to go kill within your body, and then they’ll go out and they’ll do it," Dan Levine, the startup’s chief operating officer and a doctoral candidate at Feinberg, told the Tribune.

"We can make these immune cells, and we can give them cancer,” he said. “And we can say 'Go kill whatever cancer you find in the body.' And then they’ll go and do that specifically."

The competition is a partnership between The Avon Foundation, The Center for Advancing Innovation and the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Later this year the team, will be able to pitch potential investors to receive more than $100,000 in venture capital funding.

The team includes six students from Northwestern University School of Law, Feinberg School of Medicine and Kellogg School of Management

In the story, John Kuelper, chief executive officer of the startup and a student at the law school and Kellogg, said the students applied for jobs on the team through the University's Innovation and New Ventures Office.

The other students on the team are Mthabisi Moyo, a doctoral candidate at the medical school; Jonathan Bell, an M.D. and PhD candidate; Ronald Mantel, a Kellogg MBA student; and Matthew Rosenstock, a Kellogg MBA student and law student.  

The therapy was invented by husband and wife researchers: Alan Krensky, vice dean for development and alumni relations at Feinberg and professor in pediatrics and microbiology-immunology, and Carol Clayberger, professor in microbiology-immunology. They developed the therapy while they were working at the National Cancer Institute. 

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