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David McKinney/University Relations

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Chancellor Robert Hemenway welcome Geoffrey Hamilton-Fairley and John Robertson of OncImmune to "the KU team" at a press conference Nov. 7 announcing the company would locate in Lenexa to be near KU cancer researchers. Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Lariviere is seated at left.

Life sciences company attracted by KU experts

A European-based life sciences company will locate its North American headquarters and commercial lab in Lenexa, a move designed to bring it closer to leading breast cancer researchers at KU.

The company, OncImmune, will develop and commercialize technology that has detected breast cancer up to four years earlier than a mammogram in initial evaluations.

"Nearly 213,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2006 alone," said Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius at a press conference Nov. 7 on the KU Medical Center campus. "For those women and their families, time is of the essence and early detection can save lives. I'm proud Kansas will be a part of these life-saving efforts."

OncImmune will create 120 new jobs within the next four years in addition to 20 new positions at KU. It also will invest $30 million into area lab operations.

OncImmune was founded in 2003 to commercialize technology developed in the laboratories of John Robertson, a professor of surgery at Nottingham University in England.

Dr. Tony Barnes, CEO of OncImmune, said that after evaluating possible sites in 10 states for almost a year, "world-class researchers" on the KU Lawrence and Medical Center campuses and the rich cluster of assets and opportunities for collaboration in the Kansas City area set it apart from other regions.

OncImmune will collaborate with KU's School of Pharmacy, Higuchi Biosciences Center and medical center to transfer its breast cancer technology to other forms of cancer such as lung, prostate and colon.

"Oncimmune is a perfect fit with KU's research strengths and this partnership will further progress toward developing a world-class cancer center," said Chancellor Robert Hemenway. "This shows that the University of Kansas, working with area partners, can unleash huge opportunities for the region in basic life sciences research and the translation of that research for humanitarian and economic gains."

OncImmune will designate Lenexa as its North American headquarters. It will share commercial laboratory space with IBT, a reference laboratory already located in Lenexa.

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