The University of Connecticut and CaroGen Corporation, an emerging immunotherapy company, today announced a collaboration aimed at developing a therapeutic vaccine for treatment of patients with colon cancer.  CaroGen’s proprietary technology platform will be applied to a specific target studied by UConn Health’s Dr. Kepeng Wang Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Immunology. CaroGen will support this effort with a $70,000 grant to Dr. Wang, and his collaborator Dr. Anthony T. Vella, Ph.D., Professor and Boehringer Ingelheim Chair in Immunology, who will aid in the development of this platform.

Paulo Verardi, assistant professor of pathobiology and Allison Titong, a Ph. D. student examine plates of virus at the Wilbur O. Atwater Laboratory Building, on Aug. 27, 2013.

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

CaroGen Corporation’s platform technology is a transformative virus-like vesicle (VLV) technology developed at Yale University School of Medicine and exclusively licensed by CaroGen for the development and commercialization of immunotherapies worldwide. The company is developing a portfolio of immunotherapies with a lead program in chronic hepatitis B viral infection in collaboration with Professor John Rose, from Yale University School of Medicine and Dr. Michael Robek from Albany Medical College.

Dr. Wang’s target, Interleukin-17 (IL-17), a pleiotropic pro inflammatory cytokine, can promote cancer-elicited inflammation and prevent cancer cells from immune surveillance.

“Working in collaboration with CaroGen’s scientists, we are striving to provide a new solution for physicians and patients by developing a vaccine that targets IL-17 to potentially treat and cure colon cancer,” said Dr. Vella.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause over 49,000 deaths during 2016. The percentage of colon and rectal cancer deaths is highest among people aged 75-84, and colon cancer death rates increase with age.

“While the death rate from colon cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades thanks to screening and improved treatment, our goal is to reach close to a 100 percent survival rate. By combining our platform with Dr. Wang’s very promising target, we hope that a new powerful immunotherapy will be developed to provide patients with that assurance,” said CaroGen’s President and CEO, Dr. Bijan Almassian.

The company will have the right to exclusively license intellectual property developed by UConn through this collaboration for human and animal health use.

CaroGen Corporation, recently announced that it raised $2 million through GP Fortune Investment Partners (GPFI), LLC, a subsidiary of G.P. Healthcare, a conglomerate organization, based in Shandong China and Connecticut Innovations.

“CaroGen is proving to be both a scientific and entrepreneurial leader in Connecticut,” said Dr. Jeff Seemann, UConn Vice President for Research.  “Dr. Almassian has led multiple efforts to apply the CaroGen technology in collaborations with UConn researchers where critical and urgent health care needs exist. We are very excited about this latest endeavor, which we believe will yield significant therapeutic and commercial opportunities through the combined expertise of UConn Health’s Department of Immunology and CaroGen.”

CaroGen is also working on the development of VLV immunotherapies against C. difficile bacterial infection in collaboration with UConn Health researcher, Dr. Kamal Khanna, Assistant Professor of Immunology, and a vaccine against Zika with UConn researcher Dr. Paulo Verardi, Associate Professor of Pathology.

CaroGen has its R&D headquarters in UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP) at UConn Health in Farmington.  TIP is a business incubator supported by the University to allow emerging technology ventures to leverage its unique R&D and entrepreneurial resources, as well as facilitate scientific collaborations to further commercial developments.


Contact at CaroGen Corporation
Bijan Almassian (203) 815-5782
Contact at UConn
Rita Zangari (860) 486-3010