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Focus Fund and MD Anderson Launch Investment Fund to Support Promising Investigational Cancer Therapies in Early-Stage Clinical Trials

Combination of over $50 million in committed capital along with access to cancer expertise and clinical facilities will help advance novel IND-ready candidates

The Focus Fund GP, LLC, in partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson), has launched Cancer Focus Fund, LP (Cancer Focus Fund), an oncology-focused investment fund designed to support the advancement of compelling investigational cancer therapies from late preclinical development through Phase I and Phase Ib/II clinical trials.

Small to midsize biopharmaceutical companies often face challenges in conducting effective early-stage clinical studies as a result of a lack of funding, as well as access to oncologists, clinical facilities and eligible patients seeking to participate in cancer trials. Cancer Focus Fund aims to address this unmet need by providing investments for promising cancer therapeutics together with the clinical trials expertise and infrastructure of MD Anderson. The goal is to accelerate the progress of these promising therapies through Investigational New Drug (IND) approval and Phase I and Phase Ib/II studies.

Cancer Focus Fund has held its initial closing with over $50 million of capital commitments. In addition to MD Anderson, Limited Partners include the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Rice University Endowment, LSU Health Shreveport Foundation, Ochsner Health and other private investors.

“The Cancer Focus Fund is a unique investment fund that aligns the scientific and clinical expertise of MD Anderson with business experts, public financing entities and private venture capital to propel promising cancer therapies toward pivotal trials,” said Ross Barrett, a founder and Managing Partner of Cancer Focus Fund. “We are delighted to work with MD Anderson in this effort and are optimistic that our approach will help companies successfully conduct clinical trials and bring more novel treatments to patients. We also believe our unique approach has the potential to reward our investors and thereby provide incentives for further investments in innovative cancer therapies.”

Cancer Focus Fund is jointly administered by a scientific advisory committee, made up of MD Anderson researchers and physicians, and an investment committee, composed of experienced biotechnology investment professionals. The scientific committee will consider candidates from worldwide sources for potential investment based on scientific merit, and the investment committee will make final decisions on funding based on those recommendations.

“We are committed to bringing forward the most impactful new therapies that will improve the lives of our patients,” said Ferran Prat, Ph.D., J.D., senior vice president for Research Administration and Industry Relations at MD Anderson. “Without appropriate support, we know that some therapies with great potential may be delayed, may not be developed properly in the clinical setting or may never make it into clinical studies. Through investment from the Cancer Focus Fund and the support of MD Anderson, we hope to advance worthwhile new treatments past the traditional hurdles in the drug development process to the patients who need them.”

As part of the partnership, MD Anderson will design and host clinical studies for therapies that receive IND approval, utilizing the extensive expertise of MD Anderson physicians in conducting early stage clinical trials. In addition, Ochsner Health and LSU Health Shreveport, which serve large numbers of cancer patients, will work with Cancer Focus Fund portfolio companies to provide additional clinical trial sites so that patients can join clinical studies as appropriate.

“Through the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center at Ochsner, the Precision Cancer Therapies Program offers the only program in our region dedicated to offering early phase clinical trials for cancer patients,” said Leonardo Seoane M.D. Chief Academic Officer and Senior Vice-President Ochsner Health. “We are very excited to partner with the Cancer Focus Fund to help develop new therapies to treat cancer and provide these clinical trials closer to our communities.”

"The Feist-Weiller Cancer Center at LSU Health Shreveport is excited to be a part of the Cancer Focus Fund to bring the latest new cancer clinical trials to our community,” said Dr. Chris Kevil, Vice-Chancellor for Research at LSU Health Shreveport. “We are confident our clinical trial facilities, coupled with expanded patient access to clinical trials across north and central Louisiana in partnership with Ochsner Health, will yield promising results for all citizens of Louisiana.”

About Cancer Focus Fund

The Cancer Focus Fund, LP is a unique investment fund established in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The fund provides investment support to advance promising cancer therapies that are close to being tested in humans, as well as the clinical trial expertise and infrastructure of MD Anderson. The fund’s objective is to leverage this unique combination to provide investors with superior risk-adjusted returns. Along with the fund’s partners at MD Anderson, the Cancer Focus Fund provides both capital and translational research expertise with the goal of accelerating the development of novel cancer therapies that result in better outcomes for patients while generating returns for investors.

About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The institution’s sole mission is to end cancer for patients and their families around the world. MD Anderson is one of only 51 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). MD Anderson is ranked No.1 for cancer care in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” survey. It has ranked as one of the nation’s top two hospitals for cancer care since the survey began in 1990 and has ranked first 16 times in the last 19 years. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).

About Ochsner Health

Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Ochsner Health is a not-for-profit committed to giving back to the communities it serves through preventative screenings, health and wellness resources and partnerships with innovative organizations that share our vision. Ochsner Health healed more than 876,000 people from across the globe in 2019, providing the latest medical breakthroughs and therapies, including digital medicine for chronic conditions and telehealth specialty services. Ochsner Health is a national leader, named the top hospital in Louisiana and a top children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. As Louisiana’s leading healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. Ochsner Health is innovating healthcare by investing in new technologies and research to make world-class care more accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner's team of more than 26,000 employees and 4,500 providers are working to reinvent the future of health and wellness in the region. To learn more about Ochsner Health, please visit www.ochsner.org. To transform your health, please visit www.ochsner.org/healthyyou.

About LSU Health Shreveport

LSU Health Shreveport is one of two health sciences centers in the Louisiana State University system and one of only 154 in the nation. LSU Health Shreveport is home to the School of Medicine, School of Graduate Studies and School of Allied Health Professions, and a robust research enterprise. Over 950 students are enrolled in the degree programs at any one time. Additionally, over 570 residents and fellows are trained each year. The primary mission of the LSU Health Sciences Center at Shreveport is to teach, heal, and discover, in order to advance the well-being of the region and beyond. At the heart of the LSU Health Shreveport is a strong faculty that includes a number of nationally and internationally acclaimed physicians and scientists. More than 600 strong, they lead our research efforts, educate our students and provide primary and specialty care to patients throughout the region. LSU Health Shreveport has strong community support, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion that promotes mutual respect for all. For more information, visit www.lsuhs.edu.