Utah Company Kuda Therapeutics Awarded $2 Million Grant for Cancer Research

Brittany HancockUtah Innovation Center

Utah Company Kuda Therapeutics Awarded $2 Million Grant for Cancer Research

Utah company, Kuda Therapeutics, received a Phase II grant from the National Cancer Institute for $2,050,000 to continue research on novel therapies targeting kidney cancer through the competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The clear cell subtype of kidney cancer, the most common and aggressive form of this disease, is among the most drug resistant of solid tumors and is uniquely dependent upon the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF) for its continued growth and progression. Clear cell kidney cancer cells are also exquisitely sensitive to ferroptosis, a newly discovered form of cell death driven by iron accumulation. 

Kuda Therapeutics, led by co-founder and CEO, Dr. Mei Yee Koh, and co-founder and CFO, Mr. Travis Ehlinger, identified a molecule that specifically blocks HIF production and induces tumor cell death through ferroptosis. The company’s SBIR Phase II-funded studies will advance the commercial development of this molecule as a new medicine for the treatment of kidney cancer.

“KD061 is a novel first-in-class molecule that inhibits HIF-1/2α and triggers cell death via ferroptosis, thus exploiting two specific vulnerabilities of kidney cancer,” said Koh. “This SBIR Phase II grant enables Kuda to advance KD061 towards an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing and first-in-human studies where we can begin to make a difference in the lives of patients.”

The company previously received a $560,000 Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program Idea Award (2020-2023) and a $300,000 Phase I SBIR award from the National Cancer Institute (2018-2020). The company worked with the Utah Innovation Center for all three winning proposals.

“The Utah Innovation Center, with their expertise in these grant funding mechanisms’ has provided invaluable assistance to our team in preparing and proofreading these winning proposals. I would encourage other young companies seeking federal funding to utilize this free resource provided by the State of Utah,” Koh added.

The Utah Innovation Center is available to assist other Utah companies looking for non-dilutive funding through the federal SBIR/STTR programs. The Innovation Center can be contacted at innovationutah@utah.gov.