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Spin-off Developing Inhibitors to Sphingosine Kinase, an Enzyme Driving Cell Proliferation and Inflammation

HERSHEY, Pa.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Hershey Center for Applied Research (HCAR) announced today that its first private company tenant, Apogee Biotechnology Corporation, has established its headquarters on the HCAR campus, in Building One. Apogee, a spin-off of the Penn State College of Medicines Department of Pharmacology, is developing chemical compounds that will inhibit the activities of sphingosine kinase, an enzyme known to drive cell proliferation and inflammation. Sphingosine kinase is overactive in several diseases such as cancer, diabetic retinopathy, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and atherosclerosis.

We have been fortunate to have the support of many leaders in the biotechnology community here in Hershey and throughout the region, said Dr. Charles D. Smith, President, CEO and Founder of Apogee. Moving onto the HCAR campus further solidifies our presence in this community we foresee great opportunities for sharing lab facilities and state-of-the-art equipment, while also leveraging HCARs excellent network of service providers, investors, vendors and more.

The lead compound being developed by Apogee was identified in 2006, and is the first-in-class non-lipid inhibitor of sphingosine kinase. It has shown promising biological activity in several disease models, and Apogee expects that it will advance into human trials in 2009. The Company currently has six employees, four of whom hold PhDs, and received more than $7 million from the Small Business Innovative Research grant program from the National Institutes of Health.

Apogee will reside in the HCAR Technology Suites, which is flexible wet lab space that is being supported by the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central Pennsylvania (LSGPA). LSGPA recently awarded HCAR a $700,000 grant to subsidize leasing in the HCAR Technology Suites for start up companies such as Apogee. The LSGPA was formed to provide start-up money and business support services to early-stage life sciences companies.

We couldnt be more pleased about our first tenant company, said Laura Butcher, Executive Director, HCAR. The research Apogee is pursuing has the potential to change lives, by potentially slowing down the progression of diseases. Being situated within close proximity to so many other great research minds from academia and industry will foster continued success for Apogee as will the access they will have to additional research resources and business connections.

It has been a pleasure to watch Apogee grow, and to help with that process, said Kent Vrana, Chair of the Penn State College of Medicine Department of Pharmacology. The Department of Pharmacology is housed on the third floor of Building One of HCAR, and the Department shares many resources with Apogee. Their decision to locate in HCAR is testament to their savvy business sense the leaders of Apogee are smart to leverage the connections they have built already and to continue to grow and expand those.

Apogee’s new address will be:
Apogee Biotechnology Corporation
Hershey Center for Applied Research
1214 Research Boulevard, Suite 1016
Hummelstown, PA 17036

Located adjacent to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine, the Hershey Center for Applied Research is a research park that offers life sciences and high technology researchers and companies at all phases of the business lifecycle state-of-the-art wet and dry lab facilities and office space, as well as access to capital, business support services and shared amenities. HCAR offers a premier location for life sciences and high technology researchers and companies to grow and succeed in the global marketplace.

About the Hershey Center for Applied Research

Hershey Center for Applied Research (HCAR) provides resident organizations with state-ofthe-art facilities and high-value business and research resources that enable growth escalation. In addition to its wet and dry lab facilities and office space in a campus-like setting in Hershey, PA, HCAR provides facilitated access to research expertise, especially in the areas of research discovery, development and commercialization; access to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine, a major research institution with amenities that include core facilities, clinical trial participation, researcher sponsorship and research advisors; and assistance in obtaining necessary business resources, like venture capital, human resources, including Penn State M.D.s and Ph.D.s, and access to business advisors. For more information, go to


Hershey Center for Applied Research (HCAR)
Jen Bannan, 412-580-3675


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