Bluefield Innovations, the multi-year collaboration between The Johns Hopkins University and Deerfield Management, has put out its latest request for proposal for the next scientific discovery it can help advance from concept to commercialization.

The first Johns Hopkins researcher to collaborate with Bluefield, meanwhile, has nothing but praise for her experience so far.

“We’ve been able to take multiple different approaches that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to fund,” says Marikki Laiho, director of the Johns Hopkins Division of Molecular Radiation Sciences. “It’s been an exceptionally good opportunity.”

Laiho and her lab are trying to find new inhibitors for a specific pathway that is activated in cancers. Laiho, through Bluefield, is working to identify a clinical lead molecule and move it toward human clinical trials.

Laiho, a professor of radiation oncology, says Bluefield’s backing has allowed for more breadth in her lab’s research as well as a chance to advance her research that otherwise would have been cost prohibitive. In addition to the operational support that Deerfield has provided to advance the project, Laiho has been able to hire three new researchers to aid her work.

Bluefield has been “very amenable and actually encouraged us to continue to conduct research that supports the overall goals of the project,” she says.

Ultimately, Bluefield and Laiho hope to develop a first-in-class small molecule drug.

Marikki Laiho

“It is amazing to see the depth and breadth of the cutting-edge research being pioneered at Johns Hopkins,” says Vincent J. Kalish, Bluefield’s chief scientific officer.

The latest RFP opened following an antibody drug development seminar in late September, but it is open to all therapeutic modalities. A joint steering committee will identify the research that Bluefield will support through the pre-clinical development process — including basic research, proof of concept, target selection and investigational new drug-enabling studies designed to qualify a candidate to enter into human clinical trials.

Research developed within Bluefield will either be licensed to third parties or spun out into new companies. Funding for companies supported by Bluefield may include capital from Deerfield.

Click here to learn more about Bluefield or to submit an RFP. Proposals are due Oct. 29.