Research

Former UK Innovator Contributed to CWRU Biotech Startup Rodeo Therapeutics Acquired by Amgen Inc.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 10, 2021) — Collaborative research by former University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy Professor Hsin-Hsiung (Daniel) Tai, Ph.D., and innovators at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW), has been acquired by Amgen Inc.

The research on 15-hydroxyprostaglandin (15-PGDH) in tissue regeneration and repair resulted in a portfolio of issued and pending patents co-owned by UK, CWRU and UTSW. Collaborators include CWRU’s Sanford Markowitz, M.D., Ph.D., (Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics and Distinguished University Professor) and Stanton Gerson, Ph.D., (interim dean of the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center), UK’s Tai and UTSW’s Joseph Ready, Ph.D., (Bonnie Bell Harding Professor and vice chair of biochemistry). These innovators developed a patented novel therapeutic approach for tissue repair using 15-PGDH as a target, because it modulates PGE2 levels, which play a role in resolving inflammation, thereby accelerating healing.

In 2017, innovators at CWRU and UTSW created Rodeo Therapeutics Corp, a drug development startup that develops small-molecule therapies designed to promote regeneration and repair of multiple tissues. The therapies have the potential to address many serious disease conditions. Rodeo Therapeutics had a license to the University of Kentucky Research Foundation’s interest in the intellectual property on which Tai was an inventor.

Amgen Inc., a publicly traded international biopharmaceutical company, announced on March 30, 2021, that it has acquired Rodeo Therapeutics. Under the terms of the agreement, Amgen will acquire all outstanding shares of Rodeo Therapeutics for $55 million, plus “future contingent milestone payments potentially worth up to an additional $666 million in cash.”

“We are always proud to see our involvement in breakthrough discoveries, and especially when they are successfully advanced to market for improvement of patient health,” said Ian McClure, associate vice president for research, innovation and economic impact. “Dr. Tai’s collaboration on this important technology discovery helped to support that translation, and UK is proud to have been a partner with CRWU and UTSW in developing this high-potential technology which has now earned the investment of Amgen.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.