A University of California-Irvine chemistry professor is an equity partner in Novonco Therapeutics Inc., a new company in Los Angeles founded to treat cancer patients.

Dr. Larry Overman said "epigenetic regulators" that cause genes to react to stimuli are the basis for drugs the company will try to develop, to help earlier cancer treatments work better. This could produce new cancer therapies, he said.

Overman and Dr. David Horne, deputy director of research at City of Hope in Los Angeles, conducted the research at the two institutions, which own the intellectual property.

The two scientists are partners in the venture with Dr. Jack Kavanaugh, chief executive.

The new work is connected to previous work Kavanaugh has done at other companies, developing cancer treatment that connects drugs more closely to a single patient’s cancer cells, enabling drugs to fight the disease more effectively.