Kevin Carter, Jonathan Smyth, Michael Bisogno.

Kevin Carter (left), Michael Bisogno (right) and Jonathan Smyth are developing a business venture for a chemo delivery method that may improve cancer treatment.

Business Idea for New Cancer Drug Delivery System Wins First Place

Published April 23, 2015 This content is archived.

story by jacqueline ghosen

Students in biomedical engineering and medicine are principals in the biotechnology venture that won a University at Buffalo entrepreneurship competition.

“Dr. Lovell is very supportive, and he has helped me figure out a good career path. ”
Kevin Carter
Biomedical engineering master’s student

The first-place team in this year’s Henry A. Panasci Jr. Technology Entrepreneurship Competition (Panasci TEC) proposes a revolutionary way to deliver cancer drugs.

Team members are:

The group will receive more than $60,000 in startup funding and in-kind services for their company, PhotoZyne.

Improving Cancer Treatment, Reducing Side Effects

PhotoZyne has developed an effective, minimally invasive way to target cancer treatments, offering distinct advantages over current methods.

The dosage and effectiveness of typical cancer drugs are limited because of their severe toxicity.

The creators say their focused delivery system helps to decrease recurrence, resistance and side effects. Also, survival rates are higher because the tumor can be treated in one concentrated dose.

In the PhotoZyne process, a “smart” nanoballoon safely delivers cancer treatments directly to solid tumors. Administered intravenously, the drug is activated when exposed to a special laser light probe.

Student, Mentor Co-Invent Nanoballoon Technology

Carter co-invented the technology with his mentor Jonathan F. Lovell, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering. 

Carter, who has worked in Lovell’s lab since 2012, says Lovell has provided him with valuable guidance. 

“Dr. Lovell is very supportive, and he has helped me figure out a good career path,” notes Carter.

Carter was first author on “Porphyrin–Phospholipid Liposomes Permeabilized by Near-Infrared Light,” a study of the innovative drug delivery system. He co-wrote the paper with Lovell and collaborators from the United States and Canada. 

The study was published in Nature Communications in 2014.

Establishing Interdisciplinary Connections at UB

Panasci TEC brings together UB students from science, technology, business and other disciplines to foster viable businesses in Western New York.

Carter’s UB connections put him in touch with his business partners. 

“Dr. Lovell introduced me to Jon. Rachel Stern, a student assistant with the School of Management, introduced me to Mike,” explains Carter.

Competing Against 32 Teams’ Innovative Ideas

After evaluating a record 33 first-round pitches, judges pared the field to 11, representing a wide range of ideas. That group submitted business plans and video pitches, and five teams were then selected to present.

The finalists’ ideas were evaluated on:

  • feasibility and marketability
  • need for the product or service
  • potential sources of capital

Other competitors proposed an animal welfare fundraising platform and self-navigating robotics technology for boats and ships.

The competition is hosted by the School of Management’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.