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Drug Developer Kiromic Declines San Antonio’s Cash Offer for HQ Move

Xconomy Texas — 

San Antonio — [Updated 7/23/18, 6:10 p.m. See below.] The board of directors for Houston-based immunotherapy biotech Kiromic has decided against taking a $200,000 investment from San Antonio-based economic development group, which would have required the company to relocate to San Antonio.

Kiromic won’t relocate it’s headquarters to San Antonio—for the time being, at least, president Scott Dahlbeck told Xconomy July 23. The company is opening a branch in San Antonio, however, and is leasing space at the Aurora Breast Center, which provides imaging, treatments, and other services. (Dahlbeck joined the staff of the center, according to its website.) [Comments from Dahlbeck added throughout.]

Kiromic turned down a $200,000 investment from San Antonio Economic Development Corporation for a stake of preferred equity in Kiromic’s Series A round of funding. Kiromic has artificial intelligence software that it’s using to develop two experimental cancer immunotherapies. The company is trying to raise as much as $12 million in a Series A financing round to use toward operations and early clinical trials, president Scott Dahlbeck told Xconomy in May.

Kiromic would have needed to stay in San Antonio for five years and create as many as 20 jobs, if it had agreed to the terms of the deal. Whether the company relocates the business to, or expands its presence in, San Antonio may still to be determined, Ed Davis, executive director of the economic development corporation, wrote in an e-mail. [Paragraph and headline updated with additional comment from Davis.]

Considering the job requirements associated with the incentive, and the timeline of it, the prudent choice was to start off with a branch in San Antonio, and see how the development of its drugs and other potential partnerships go, Dahlbeck said July 23. Depending on how things go, the company may again consider relocating at a later date, he said.

The biotech was founded in 2012 and is aiming to train T-cells in the immune system to attack and destroy cancer by using a process that encourages greater dendritic cell activity to direct the T-Cells after specific cancer cell targets. Kiromic finds those targets, which are genes or proteins, using software it calls Kiromic Artificial Intelligence, or K.A.I. (You can read more details about the experimental process here.)

Kiromic is currently running four combined Phase 1 and 2 trials for its lead drug, an injectible treatment called BSK01, which some of the potential Series A round will pay for, Dahlbeck said in May. All of the clinical trials have a presence in San Antonio.