Winning business plan aimed at aiding cancer victims

June 06, 2008

The annual College Venture Challenge sponsored by the Capital Area Economic Development Corp. normally involves teams of students competing for cash prizes and startup assistance for their business plans.

Penn State Harrisburg walked away with the top prize in the Graduate Challenge April 29, but the winning “team” consisted of one person -- master of business administration student and Hershey resident Maricarmen Planas-Silva, who earned $5,000 to support her BioCells2Cure concept.

The overriding focus of BioCells2Cure is to help assure women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer receive the most effective drug treatment. “BioCells2Cure links the pharmaceutical and biotech industries,” Planas-Silva explained. “It’s a business model to help pharmaceutical firms decide which drugs would most likely be successful in treating a certain type of breast cancer and whether or not to combine these drugs with current therapies while testing them in clinical trials.”

She continued, “The specialization is on the type of breast cancer – there are many. We would do lab experiments with a respective drug to decide if it is a good candidate for clinical trials against this type of breast cancer. We will learn if the drug works well in lab testing and predict its success in the clinics.”

Combining her background in cell biology and research with her studies at Penn State Harrisburg, Planas-Silva’s business would begin with a cancer cell culture model which would undergo lab tests with pharmaceuticals. “We will ask which drugs work and develop ways to identify which patients should respond better to the respective drug,” she points out.

Formerly a researcher at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the native of Peru holds a doctoral degree in cell biology from the Baylor College of Medicine and did her postgraduate research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 06, 2010