Innovator Spotlight

Celebrating the rich technologies UC San Diego brings to market.

Bradley Morrison from Anviron Corp

Highlighted Technology: A novel therapy based on regulatory T cell expansion via short peptide epitopes

Anviron Corp is a new biotech (start-up) company that was created in 2020 by licensing, as a foundation technology, Dr. Alessandra Franco’s patented treatment for vasculitis and Kawasaki Disease. This treatment is based on a mix of peptides she identified which regulate the natural T regulatory cells response.

Please explain your technology and its impact.

Growing up, my mother was a physician and my father was an entrepreneur. I grew up with both a love of science and a desire to build things. While at UC Santa Barbara studying physics, I started two companies and later joined my father at a company he started. I went on my own to join a subsidiary of a global aerospace company, finding myself as head of innovation, a role that cultivated discovery to build businesses within a business.

In 2015, I teamed up with a friend to launch a medical device business (Medipines) from our kitchen table, a business we hoped might one day help people close to us that suffered with severe respiratory illnesses. We were introduced to UC San Diego and their wonderful team of innovators. We negotiated a license for a respiratory related medical device and after four years engineering, clinical trials and regulatory negotiations (and fund raising), our company received FDA (and Canada Health) clearance and are enjoying spectacular growth thanks to UC San Diego technology and their wonderful team.

For which indications do you see this technology working or in which settings?

When Covid hit with devastating ferocity, I felt a renewed energy to contribute and build again. I assembled a new group and we looked at dozens of promising therapies from great research institutions across North America, paying special attention to diseases that afflicted children. Rare children’s diseases are often overlooked by a pharmaceutical industry in a perpetual battle to refresh multi-billion dollar drug pipelines.

We reconnected with our friends at UC San Diego and were introduced to Dr. Alessandra Franco and her research. Dr. Franco has devoted a significant portion of her career to understanding and treating diseases associated with our own immune systems. While cancer is a fight against our own mutated and dysregulated cells, diseases of a dysregulated immune system can be just as debilitating and just as deadly. We were drawn to Dr. Franco and her breakthrough research in rare inflammatory diseases that often afflict children, such as Kawasaki disease, sometimes with devastating results. We were moved by Dr. Franco’s passion as well as her science and are excited to be a part her journey.

What is the next step to get this device into the clinic?

The next step in this journey is safety. We are confident in the science, we now need to ensure these therapies are safe. Our team is currently planning pre-clinical studies to assess safety and understand what these drugs do to the body and what the body does to these drugs. We are currently recruiting leaders and partners that are ready to join us on this journey and move this promising technology forward. Of course, we are also courting investment, the fuel that drives these activities.

But bringing promising new drug therapies to patients takes more than money, it takes great technology and a strong team and we are fortunate to find both at UC San Diego. We know our business model won’t make us as big and wealthy as other drug makers but we are passionate about our direction and our mission.

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For licensing or commercialization questions, please contact Devora Rossi, Ph.D. (drossi@ucsd.edu), Senior Innovation & Commercialization Manager.  

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Rossi's background is in Immunology and she has several years of experience in Business Development in various biotech companies before coming to UC San Diego.