HOUSTON & SEATTLE—The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Theraclone Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing novel monoclonal antibody therapeutics for cancer and infectious diseases, have announced the launch of OncoResponse, an immuno-oncology antibody discovery company. The company is launching with the help of funding from a recently closed $9.5-million Series A financing co-led by ARCH Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and MD Anderson. Rice University and Alexandria Real Estate Equities also participated in the financing round. This is one of the latest efforts by MD Anderson to help develop a biotech hub in Houston.
“With MD Anderson, OncoResponse has partnered with an institution and people with countless years of experience in research and treatment in oncology. We’ll gain access to data, information and the immune system memory cells from those patients who are elite responders to cancer immunotherapies. That, coupled with the experience of the Theraclone team, which has overseen the discovery and development of several relevant product candidates from the I-STAR technology in multiple therapeutic areas, makes OncoResponse a sound investment,” commented Steve Gillis, Ph.D., managing director of ARCH Venture Partners.
OncoResponse's efforts will focus on using Theraclone's I-STAR immune repertoire screening technology to help identify therapeutic antibodies against novel targets from immuno-oncology-treated patients. The I-STAR technology platform enables the rapid screening of antibodies produced by the human immune system in order to identify candidates with exceptional reactivity that could lead to the development of cancer treatments. Theraclone's current list of projects includes conducting research on OncoResponse's behalf for the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies and novel targets in triple-negative breast cancer, melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and gastric cancer. For its part, MD Anderson will provide its oncology and translational medicine expertise as well as access to samples and physiologic, prognostic and genotypic data from patients who have had promising responses to immunotherapies.
“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 OncoResponse, said in a press release. “I-STAR immune repertoire screening technology has the unique capability to identify rare cancer-fighting antibodies and new targets. We’re extremely excited to have teamed up with MD Anderson experts to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer and their families.”
“Immunotherapy will continue to be of utmost significance for our patients who rely on us to provide them with the very latest in treatment options,” Dr. Ronald DePinho, president of MD Anderson, commented. “Through strategic alliances, we aim for more timely delivery of therapies that will enhance their quality of life and successfully treat their disease.”
SOURCE: MD Anderson press release