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From the Chemistry Department

Promising Drug Candidate Licensed to Cancer Therapeutics Company

AuraTEX, a gold-based cancer drug developed by University of Texas at Austin researchers, has been licensed exclusively to OncoTex Inc., a cancer therapeutics company.

In 2020, UT Austin chemists Jonathan Sessler and Jonathan Araumbula (now CEO of OncoTex), published a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society showing that AuraTex prevents tumor establishment and growth in a mouse model via a unique mechanism called immunogenic cell death (ICD) that is garnering a lot of attention for its potential in battling cancer. ICD is a process where dying cancer cells release a specific biomarker making tumors visible to the human immune system. This disruption starts a cascade to create killer T-cells that then attack and destroy the remaining cancer. AuraTEX is the first gold-based agent capable of inducing ICD.

In a review paper published last week in Chemical Society Reviews, Sessler, Arambula and Jong Seung Kim at Korea University, describe recent advances in research on ICD and cancer treatment, including the development of AuraTex.

“This report constitutes an area of tremendous opportunity,” Sessler said. “Based on what we have learned to date, metal-containing drug candidates appear particularly promising in producing tumor immunogenicity. This has us excited about our own entry into the field, AuraTEX, and for its potential.”

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