Four New Companies Debut at MassCONNECT Showcase: Atanse, NyaCell, PathoVax & WntRx

Feb 24, 2016

Nutter Sponsors Mentorship Program Cycle

This MassCONNECT class includes entrepreneurs working to create a one-time cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s, improve intracerebral drug delivery, develop a universal HPV vaccine, and develop novel colorectal cancer treatments.

February 24, 2016 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — Startup companies working to create a one-time cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s, improve intracerebral drug delivery, develop a universal HPV vaccine, and develop novel colorectal cancer treatments have been chosen for a new cycle of the MassCONNECT mentoring program, sponsored by Nutter, MassBio announced today.

MassCONNECT, the only entrepreneur mentorship program in Massachusetts that dives deep into the life sciences industry, kicked off its first cycle of 2016 with a Technology Showcase on Tuesday, February 23. At the Showcase, the chosen entrepreneurs presented their ideas to a room of industry executives and potential mentors for early feedback.

The entrepreneurs are now matched with mentor teams that possess expertise specific to the entrepreneurs’ objectives and business needs. The entrepreneurs will receive coaching from these mentors over a two-month period before presenting in a final session in front of venture capitalists and other potential partners.

Nutter is sponsoring this MassCONNECT cycle and providing mentors for the entrepreneur teams.

“MassBio’s effort to team up inventors and entrepreneurs with experienced business leaders is commendable,” said Lana A. Gladstein, Partner at Nutter. “Nutter is proud to support MassCONNECT and take part in the ever complicated process of translating science into successful products.”  

MassBio has also started a new partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital to help provide clinical insights to early-stage life sciences entrepreneurs.

“We are thrilled to support the healthcare entrepreneurs in the MassCONNECT program as they translate their cutting-edge discoveries into new medical therapies and technologies,” said Dr. Jacqueline Slavik, Executive Director of the Brigham Research Institute. “By helping these early-stage companies gain clinical insights from experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, we hope to help them refine their business plans, advance their R&D efforts, and create the next generation of innovative life sciences companies in Massachusetts.”

MassCONNECT is also supported by EvaluatePharma USA, Inc. which provides critical data to entrepreneurs.

“Evaluate is pleased to support MassCONNECT mentee companies through access to EvaluatePharma® market intelligence, including all important drug pricing and forecasting insights,” said Debbie Paul, CEO of EvaluatePharma USA, Inc. “Our aim is to help these start-ups build data-driven strategic plans that address regulatory approval and market access.”

The applicants chosen for the latest round of mentorship are:

Miles Cunningham MD/PhD, Michael Kelly, Adam Leonard
Belmont, MA

Atanse ( is developing neurosurgical instruments that enable biotechnology companies to deliver their products in the brain with greater precision and reduced trauma. Atanse is currently exploring in-house development of a therapeutic candidate.    

NyaCell Therapeutics
Ole Isacson, MD-PhD

NyaCell Therapeutics is developing a one-time cell replacement surgical therapy for Parkinson’s disease. This cell therapy, using induced-pluripotent stem cells from the patient, would be the first stem cell derived restorative treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Weijie Poh, PhD

PathoVax ( is developing a cost-effective human papillomavirus vaccine with universal protection. PathoVax is committed to addressing the devastating economic burden, social stigma, and poor compliance rates resulting from the incomplete protection of current HPV vaccines.

WntRx Pharmaceuticals
David Zhu, PhD
Cambridge, MA

WntRx Pharmaceutical Inc ( is developing a first-in-class oncogenic specific Wnt pathway inhibitor for colorectal cancer patients. WntRx is an early-stage biotech company located in LabCentral that aims to build a modern, biologic drug R&D company.

Past MassCONNECT graduates have leveraged the skills learned and advice provided through the program to secure industry collaborations, investment and grants, recruit company executives, and win other industry and business plan competitions.

“The quality and potential of these startups reinforce that the Massachusetts cluster is a fertile source of innovation,” said John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer at MassBio. “We are pleased to partner with Nutter, the Brigham Research Institute, EvaluatePharma and the MassCONNECT mentors to help accelerate the commercial trajectory of Atanse, NyaCell, PathoVax and WntRx, and build the next generation of life sciences companies in Massachusetts.”

MassCONNECT is open to opportunities that involve the development of new technologies, products, services, applications, or processes in the life sciences area. Typically, these will include new diagnostic tests, pre-clinical therapeutic molecules, platform technologies, and/or instrumentation.
For more information, or to apply to be a mentor, mentee, or MBA intern, visit


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