New startup out of University of Illinois, Vanquish Oncology, to Develop Personalized Therapeutics for Cancer Markets

URBANA, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Vanquish Oncology, Inc. is a drug development company focused on targeting molecular defects in specific cancer cells to create personalized oncology therapeutics for unmet or underserved cancer markets.

Vanquish Oncology focuses on small molecule compounds developed by Professor Paul Hergenrother of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign which target cell apoptosis (cell death) across multiple tumor types. Pre-clinical data indicate that clinical candidates are well tolerated and efficacious in rodents and canines. Additionally, the compounds exhibit synergistic effects when used in combination with common front-line anti-cancer agents.

Vanquish’s product candidate compounds target a cellular enzyme, procaspase-3, that when activated spurs a cascade of reactions that kill the cancer cell. Procaspase-3 offers an attractive target for cancer therapy because cancers often interfere with normal cell death. Many tumors, including those found in breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, melanoma and liver cancer, contain high levels of procaspase-3. Vanquish will develop standalone cancer therapies in addition to drugs to be used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.

One clinical candidate, VO-101 (also known as S-PAC-1), has been tested by Professor Tim Fan of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in dogs with spontaneously occurring lymphoma and been shown to stabilize or reduce the size of tumors in a majority of the animals for the duration of study.

Vanquish Oncology was founded by IllinoisVENTURES, Level 5 Partners, and inventors from the University of Illinois.

About the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a world-class research institution boasting a respected faculty, high national rankings, and state-of-the art facilities. The University’s accomplishments include 22 Nobel Laureates among its faculty and alumni and such revolutionary innovations as the Web browser, new plant varieties and even the discovery of a third form of life. For more information about the Office of Technology Management at the University, please visit

About IlliniosVENTURES

IllinoisVENTURES is a premier seed and early-stage technology investment firm focused on research-derived companies in information technologies, physical sciences, life sciences and clean technology. IllinoisVENTURES starts and builds globally-competitive businesses based on work conducted at Midwest Universities and federal laboratories. Conceived and launched by the University of Illinois, IllinoisVENTURES has been consistently named by Entrepreneur magazine to its national list of the top 100 venture capital firms.

About Level 5 Partners

Level 5 Partners is a life science venture creation, capital and management company focused on identifying unique pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic technologies that can be commercialized, partnered or licensed in 36 months or less. The company is managed by life science & biomedical professionals with experience identifying and commercializing innovative healthcare products.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Nicole Nair, (217) 244-5011
[email protected]

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