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Purdue-based cancer imaging firm lands $15M in funding

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OnTarget Laboratories LLC, a company developing cancer-imaging technology developed at Purdue University, has raised $15 million to pay for human trials and other development work.

The West Lafayette-based company raised the funding from the Pension Fund of the Christian Church, which is based in Indianapolis, and from Tom Hurvis, the founder of Illinois-based Old World Industries LLC, which makes antifreeze and other auto products.

Hurvis had previously invested an undisclosed amount into OnTarget.

The company’s technology was first developed by Philip Low, a Purdue chemistry professor who also created the technology behind Endocyte Inc., a West Lafayette-based drug development company that is likely to launch its first drug this year.

Low discovered that cancer tumors have a greater number of certain kinds of “receptors” on the surface of their cells. By combining a molecule that binds to these receptors with a fluorescent molecule, OnTarget’s technology can make the cancer cells light up during surgery.

"We anticipate that these tumor-targeted probes could help surgeons remove more of the tumor than would have been otherwise possible because they will see the tumors illuminated in real-time during surgery,” said Low, who serves as OnTarget’s chief science officer, in a prepared statement.

James Hamlett, president of the Pension Fund of the Christian Church, said he and his colleagues were impressed with the progress of OnTarget Laboratories since its founding in 2010.

"By investing in this technology, we hope to make a contribution to the science that could result in a major step against cancer," he said in a prepared statement.

The Pension Fund of the Christian Church, which also invested in Endocyte, provides retirement plans to employees of several denominations, including Disciples of Christ and Churches of Christ.

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