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Drug developer IGF Oncology raises $1 million for clinical trials

IGF Oncology has raised $1 million as the Minnesota company prepares to move its cancer-fighting drug candidate into clinical trials.

IGF Oncology has raised $1 million as the Minnesota company prepares to move its cancer-fighting drug candidate into clinical trials.

The company plans to target melanoma, gastric cancer and hormone-resistant prostate cancer with its technology, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reported.

The Birchwood-based startup’s technology works by attaching the standard chemotherapy drug methotrexate to an engineered form of the hormone insulin-like growth factor (IGF). The combination drug then homes in on IGF receptor proteins on cancer cells to deliver the drug to the cells and kill them.

The company has yet to test the drug on humans, but IGF says on its website that tests on mice showed the company’s drug is “more than six times better than the closest conventional chemotherapy drug.”

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A key next step for IGF will be submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application to federal regulators. If approved, this would enable the company to begin human tests. Even in the best-case scenario, the drug is several years away from commercialization.

CEO Hugh McTavish, a biochemist who founded the company after undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, didn’t immediately return a call. McTavish started the company in 2003.

IGF’s investors include The University of Saint Thomas, the CEO of biofuels company Novus Energy, and the CEO of medical device company Halt Medical.