The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ernest Pharmaceuticals

Technology Focus

Ernest Pharmaceuticals’ primary focus is the development of programmed bacteria to deliver potent anticancer payloads to solid tumors. This approach has the potential to enable the delivery of a variety of anticancer therapies to solid tumors and metastases while sparing healthy tissue thus reducing side effects. Immediate efforts target inoperable liver cancer.

Current treatment for advanced liver cancer has a 17.6% 5-year survival rate. If Ernest's technology is successful, it could greatly increase the survival of advanced liver cancer patients.

Research Focus

Ernest Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company established to create smart therapeutics. Their platform is based on therapeutic bacteria, designed with synthetic techniques.

Market Focus

Ernest Bacterial Vectors (EBV) are a platform technology. The created bacterial vectors will be effective against other orphan cancers and those for which there is an unmet need, including liver, pancreatic, ovarian and metastatic breast cancer. In addition, EBVs can be engineered to deliver multiple protein drugs.


Intellectual Property (IP)

US Patent filed on delivery technology and peptide.

Progress to Date

  • 2016: Established Ernest Pharmaceuticals
  • 2017: I-Corps program at UMCCTS
  • 2017: Valley Venture Mentors Accelerator
  • 2018: NSF and NIH SBIR grants in 2018
  • 2018: Add technical staff
  • 2019: MassBio’s MassConnect program


  • Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio)
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Institutes of Health
  • UMass Amherst Institute of Applied Life Sciences
Ernest bacteria
Contact Info


Nele Van Dessel
PhD CoFounder and CSO