UCF spin-off company CytoSen acquired in $70 million deal

UCF spin-off company CytoSen acquired in $70 million deal
Dr. Alicja Copik, a cancer researcher at UCF Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, developed technology that became the foundation for the work of UCF spin-off company CytoSen. (Naseem S. Miller)

UCF spin-off company CytoSen has been acquired by the Netherlands-based Kiadis Pharma in a stock transaction that could reach $70 million, marking one of the largest biotech purchases in Central Florida history.

The terms of the sale include an upfront consideration of 1.94 million shares of Kiadis stock, according to a news release. Once the company accomplishes six clinical development and regulatory milestones, CytoSen’s owners will receive another 5.82 million shares.


"This is an outstanding success story for the UCF Business Incubation Program,” said Carol Ann Dykes Logue of the UCF Research Park Innovation District, in a news release. “While certainly this is an atypical accomplishment, this proves anything can be possible with a great product or service accompanied by a great business.”

CytoSen’s research is based on technology developed by Dr. Alicja Copik, a cancer researcher at UCF Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. Copik created nanoparticles that stimulated natural killer cells and increased their cancer-killing ability.

The company will continue to operate out of Winter Springs Incubator.

In Brief...
Project Xavier uses technology developed by Limbitless Solutions to help patients with ALS move their wheelchairs.
Project Xavier uses technology developed by Limbitless Solutions to help patients with ALS move their wheelchairs. (Limbitless Solutions)

UCF-based Limbitless Solutions is partnering with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville to study a technology that allows patients with ALS to control their wheelchairs with their facial muscles. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Inspired by the same electromyographic technology that Limbitless has developed for its bionic arms, Project Xavier puts sensors on ALS patients’ faces to control a power wheelchair. Depending on how the patients clench their jaws, the wheelchair moves in a specific direction.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic will assess the technology to see if improves the independent mobility and quality of life for patients with ALS.

UCF is among the top 100 universities worldwide in issuing patents, according to the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. The university ranked 75th with 32 patents. When compared with public universities in the nation, UCF ranks 31st, according to the university.

GuideWell Innovation, a subsidiary of GuideWell, the parent company for Florida Blue, has teamed up with Springboard Enterprises for a 10-week scale-up accelerator for health and medical device companies that have least one female founder and are headquartered in Southeastern U.S.

“Both women-led startups and the Southeastern U.S. are lagging in access and closure of venture capital," said Kirstie McCool, executive director of GuideWell Innovation, in a news release. "We are honored to have an opportunity to help accelerate the growth and financing of amazing companies within this ‘double jeopardy’ demographic.”

Federal authorities recently settled two cases against Nurse on Call, a home health agency in Sarasota and Orlando. The cases alleged that the company’s medical director approved care for patients without having seen the patients and paid kickbacks in the form of a sham medical directorship to a physician who referred patients to Nurse on Call, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The claims are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability, according to officials.

'Medicare regulations requiring physicians to have face-to-face contact with patients helps to ensure that any care provided is necessary and reasonable," said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez, in a news release. “Our office will continue to use every tool at our disposal to combat fraud and abuse in our health care programs.”

Orlando Health’s ORMC Level 1 Trauma Center has received verification from the American College of Surgeons. The verification program provides confirmation that a trauma center has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality trauma care for all injured patients, according to a news release.

CareSpot Urgent Care and Orlando Health opened a new center at Lee Vista Boulevard. This is their their 11th co-branded urgent care location.

Rendering of AdventHealth Lake Nona ER
Rendering of AdventHealth Lake Nona ER (AdventHealth)

AdventHealth broke ground on a freestanding ER in Lake Nona. The one-story, 19,000-square-foot facility will employ a team of about 100 people, according to the health system. The facility is expected to open in summer 2020. This is AdventHealth’s fifth freestanding ER in Central Florida.


Florida Department of Health in Orange County has a new interim administrator, following the retirement of Dr. Kevin Sherin in early May. Dr. Raul Pino was most recently the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Pino obtained his medical degree from the University of Havana. He has a master of public health degree from UCONN School of Medicine, according to the health department.

Orlando Health announced three new executives in June: Melissa Payne is the new Corporate Director of Food and Nutritional Services. Justin Williams is the new Chief Operating Officer for Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Jessica Nelson is the new Corporate Director of Benefits.

The Agency for Health Care Administration took action against the licenses of several providers in Florida, including revoking the license of Fairview Manor assisted living facility in Orange County. It also terminated the Medicaid participation of Dr. William Glover III, a dentist in Orange County, and Bobbi S. Gibson, who received home and community-based services waiver.