The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Theraclone Sciences said today they have jointly launched OncoResponse, an immuno-oncology antibody discovery company, with $9.5 million in series A financing.

OncoResponse will apply Theraclone’s I-STAR™ immune repertoire screening technology to identify therapeutic antibodies against new targets from immuno-oncology treated patients. I-STAR technology is designed to rapidly screen antibodies made by the human immune system, and identify those with exceptional reactivity that may lead to cancer treatment development.

MD Anderson said it will provide access to samples and physiologic, prognostic and genotypic data from patients that have responded well to cancer immunotherapies, along with oncology and translational medicine expertise.

“The immune system of patients who have responded exceptionally well to cancer immunotherapies may hold the key within their memory repertoire as to what gives them an edge over other patients with less robust immune responses. It could provide us with a way to increase success rates in treating cancer,” Clifford J. Stocks, CEO of Theraclone and interim CEO of OncoResponse, said in a statement.

Added Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson: “Through strategic alliances, we aim for more timely delivery of therapies that will enhance their quality of life and successfully treat their disease.”

MD Anderson joined with two venture capital firms, ARCH Venture Partners and Canaan Partners, in co-leading the $9.5 million in financing. William Marsh Rice University and Alexandria Real Estate Equities also participated.

OncoResponse continues a series of cancer-fighting collaborations by MD Anderson with industry partners. In August, Anderson partnered with immatics biotechnologies to launch the German cancer immunotherapy developer’s U.S. subsidiary, with about $60 million in financing and a goal of developing multiple adoptive cellular therapies (ACTs) to treat cancer.

Also in August, the cancer center teamed up with Merck & Co. to evaluate the pharma’s marketed cancer therapy Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), in combination with other treatments. And last year, Anderson’s Moon Shots Program announced research alliances with GlaxoSmithKline and with MedImmune aimed at speeding up development of cancer immunotherapies.

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