Pioneer Launches Venture Group to Fund the Fight Against Rare Pediatric Brain Cancer
MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 6, 2023
MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Pioneer Management Consulting announced today the launch of Pioneer Ventures Group, a new investment arm focused on funding companies researching cures for a rare and lethal pediatric brain cancer, known medically as diffused intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) with H3K27 and EFGR variants. The fund will eventually expand further into biotech and beyond.
"We've been working to start a venture arm for more than five years now," said Pioneer founder and co-owner, Brian Westerhaus. "We chose to support DIPG research in honor of Molly Koenen's brother, Timothy Orth, and niece, Josephine (Zoey) Orth, who both lost their lives to DIPG at the ages of 18 and 3." (Koenen is a partner and co-owner at Pioneer Management Consulting and Pioneer Ventures Group.)
Westerhaus highlighted another challenge that compelled Pioneer to help. "Unfortunately, pediatric cancer research is woefully underfunded. It gets less than 4% of all cancer research dollars available, and almost none of that goes to rare types, like DIPG. Which means the treatment protocol in 1997 when Tim died, and in 2022, when Zoey was sick, are the same—steroids, radiation, and chemotherapy, all in the desperate hope that they'll buy enough time to get to a miracle clinical trial. And yet, 25 years apart, both died within months of diagnosis."
The Pioneer Venture Group's first investment is in OX2 Therapeutics (OX2), a company led by Jeff Liter, an experienced biotech executive, and his business partners, Michael Olin, PhD, and Chris Moertel, MD. Olin and Moertel are two leading DIPG researchers in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.
OX2 is a leader in the game-changing world of immunotherapies. In simple terms, immunotherapy turns the cancer patient's immune system back on to "undisguise" and then kill cancer cells, while leaving the body's "good" cells safe and intact. OX2's approach, called CD200, is catching the attention of the biotech world because of its unique ability to shut down the checkpoints in cancer cells that cause mutation, while also restarting the immune systems to kill them. A one-of-a-kind dual approach.
OX2 completed a trial for adults with high-grade glioblastomas (the equivalent of the pediatric version) at the University of Minnesota with a success rate promising enough to earn the right to start a pediatric trial. The pediatric trial will start in January 2024 at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company plans to treat and care for 12 to 18 children in the hopes of getting FDA approval to help many, many more.
"My brother, Mike Orth, and his wife, Heather, spent almost 4 months fighting for the life of their daughter, Zoey. Our family spent 14 months fighting for my brother, Tim. In both instances, the communities that surrounded us and the companies we worked for provided immeasurable, comprehensive, and unconditional help. My goal in life is to pay that forward."
Please note, clinical trials are funded only by the generosity of those who care. To donate to the pediatric trial at Children's Hospital in Minnesota, please contact Teri Cannon Teri.Cannon@childrensmn.org
About Pioneer Management Consulting
Pioneer Management Consulting was founded in 2009 and has quickly emerged as one of the fastest-growing consulting firms in the Midwest. The firm has appeared on the Inc. 5000 list of America's fastest-growing private companies for the past two years and currently has offices in Minneapolis and Denver. Pioneer specializes in guiding complex transformation projects for enterprises, with services spanning strategy, execution, organizational effectiveness, and data analytics.
Molly Koenen, Partner and Owner
Cell: (763) 331-1845
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SOURCE Pioneer Management Consulting