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."