Bacchus Therapeutics grew out of discoveries made by Dr. Arvin Gouw in Professor Dean Felsher’s laboratory at Stanford University School of Medicine. Bacchus’ proprietary compounds exploit cancer’s addiction to making lipids and cause regression of incurable cancers—in particular, cancers caused by the MYC oncogene, responsible for 70% of human cancers.

Gouw and Felsher started the biotech firm in 2019, and when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down their lab in early 2020, they dedicated their lockdown time to writing and submitting grants. Bacchus Therapeutics was one of the first winners in the IGNITE grant program.

After receiving the IGNITE program grant in 2021, Bacchus opened a lab at one of the shared wet benches in the Prince William County Accelerator in early 2022.

"The cost effectiveness of being in Prince William County, rather than out in Silicon Valley, was a considerable factor in establishing a lab here," said Gouw. “I thought about smart money – meaning what kind of tangible resources came with this grant money. I learned about the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, the research facilities and mentoring available at George Mason University, and the expansion opportunities at the NOVA Bioscience Center."

In the summer of 2022, Gouw hired two research assistants through the Virginia Bio STEM2VA student internship program, which enabled Bacchus to reach several milestones in developing their drugs.

With four pending patents, the next stage for Bacchus is optimizing their compounds for clinical trials. Bacchus has a pipeline of drug candidates for various cancers, but because the market size for cancers is so large, they are currently focusing on a drug for aggressive kidney cancers that are currently untreateable. As more funding comes in, Bacchus will continue to develop its pipeline of drugs for liver, blood, and breast cancers.

Scaling Curiosity, from the Prince William County Department of Economic Development (PWCDED), is a life sciences video channel that explores the county’s more than 25-year history developing a bioscience hub at the heart of Innovation Park in Manassas, Virginia. This video essay explores the life cycle of life science companies, featuring real county businesses owners at all stages of growth.


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