ESBATech spins out Oncalis AG

Developer of antibody fragment therapeutics recently announced the spin-out of its small-molecule inhibitor programs.

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ZURICH—ESBATech AG, a devel­oper of antibody fragment thera­peutics, recently announced the spin-out of its small-molecule inhibitor programs to form a new company, Oncalis AG.
Oncalis is currently financed by ESBATech's Series A inves­tors, including Novartis Venture Fund, BioMedinvest and VI Partners. The spin-out transaction includes the transfer of all small-molecule related assets, including a yeast-cell based, high-through­put screening platform for recep­tor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), and a number of "specific and potent" kinase inhibitors.
ESBATech reported that the decision to spin out its small-mole­cule programs allows the company to focus on one technology plat­form and drug development strat­egy of advancing antibody frag­ment therapeutics into the clinic. Oncalis will now focus on the dis­covery and development of small-molecule inhibitors for oncology indications.
"ESBATech recently completed a US$41 million Series B financ­ing round with a leading global venture capital syndicate of inves­tors that enables our first antibody fragment therapeutic candidate, ESBA105, to move into clinical development in several inflam­matory indications and to prog­ress additional antibody fragment candidates into clinical develop­ment over the next three years," says Dr. Dominik Escher, CEO of ESBATech.
"Moving forward into the clinic with two distinct product class­es such as antibody fragments for inflammatory indications and small molecules for oncol­ogy require two divergent paths," Escher continues. "Therefore, it is an optimal time to form Oncalis with dedicated leadership to focus on small molecule discovery, research and development."
Oncalis has recruited its core team, including Dr. Alcide Barberis as CEO, from ESBATech, where he was the CSO. Dr. Peter Traxler has also joined the company as VP of drug development. He was formerly an advisor to ESBATech and a key member of the Oncology Research Therapeutic Area Board of Novartis.
"As chief scientific officer of ESBATech, I have been intimately involved in our small molecule program aimed at the develop­ment of receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors," says Barberis. "Giving this program the focus and neces­sary funding will accelerate and maximize the development of our targeted, small-molecule cancer therapeutic clinical candidates."
"The clear-cut commitment shown by ESBATech's Series A investors in funding Oncalis' spin-out from ESBATech signi­fies the great potential we see in their high-throughput screening technology platform and receptor tyrosine kinase as well as kinase inhibitor development programs transferred to the company," adds Dr. Arnd Kaltofen, general partner of VI Partners and Oncalis' chair­man of the board. "We are confi­dent that Oncalis is well positioned in the targeted small molecular cancer therapeutic area, an area of significant interest to pharmaceu­tical partners."

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