CPRIT funding spotted
Seattle biotech co. to move to Houston thanks to $13.3M grant from Texas organization
A biotech company has landed a more than $13 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
The nearly $13.3 million grant given to OncoResponse — which is relocating from Seattle to Houston, according to CPRIT's news release — will help the company develop fully human monoclonal antibodies for treatment of cancer that otherwise would not respond to immunotherapy. OncoResponse already has a partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center, which is one of the company’s investors.
“We are thrilled to receive this recognition from CPRIT in supporting the potential of our immunotherapy candidate OR502. We greatly appreciate the additional support from our investors as we continue to make significant progress with our drug development efforts advancing immunotherapies derived from clues of Elite Responders,” says Clifford Stocks, CEO of OncoResponse, in a news release.
Aside from the grant, OncoResponse just hauled in $14 million from existing investors in a round led by RiverVest Venture Partners. Other participants in the series D round include Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, 3B Future Health Fund, Bering Capital, Takeda Ventures, and InterVest Capital Partners.
To date, OncoResponse has raised more than $180 million, according to market research company CB Insights.
A representative of OncoResponse couldn’t be reached for comment about the company’s relocation to Houston.
MD Anderson and Seattle-based Theraclone Sciences launched OncoResponse in 2015. Rice University was among the inaugural investors.
OncoResponse’s OR2805 immunotherapy product is being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial. It’s the company’s leading immunotherapy candidate. OncoResponse is also working on OR502, an antibody being prepared for investigational and clinical studies.
“The modern treatment of cancer activates the body’s own immune system to attack cancer,” OncoResponse says in a summary posted on the website of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
“These treatments, called immunotherapy, may not be successful if the cancer can recruit bad-acting cells, such as tumor associated macrophages, or TAMs, that create barriers preventing immunotherapies from activating the body’s own defenses against the cancer. To find drugs that may help counteract these TAMs, OncoResponse looked to patients who had responded very well to immunotherapy to see if their bodies made factors to block TAMs and helped them fight their cancers.”
OncoResponse’s OR502 prevents TAMs from shutting down the body’s response to cancer, thus restoring tumor-killing immune activity, CPRIT explains.
In addition to OncoResponse, recent CPRIT grant recipients from the Houston area are:
- Houston-based 7 Hills Pharma, $13,439,001. The company is working on immunotherapies for treatment of cancer and prevention of infectious diseases.
- Houston-based Allterum Therapeutics, $11,721,150. The company is coming up with an antibody for treatment of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This type of cancer affects blood and bone marrow.
- Houston-based Cell Therapy Manufacturing Center, $9.1 million. The center is a joint venture between National Resilience and MD Anderson Cancer Center that is developing cell therapy manufacturing technologies to support biotech partnerships.
- Houston-based Pulmotect, $8,851,165. The company’s PUL-042 product is aimed at treating and preventing respiratory complications in cancer patients.
- Cancer researcher Michael King, $6 million. The grant helped lure King to Rice from Nashville’s Vanderbilt University, where he’s been the chair of biomedical engineering. King’s lab at Vanderbilt has been testing therapies for metastatic breast cancer and prostate cancer.
- Missouri City-based OmniNano Pharmaceuticals, $2,711,437. The pharmatech company is working on two drugs for treatment of solid tumors in patients with pancreatic cancer.
“Texas is unique because of CPRIT’s ability to invest in cutting-edge research when private capital is scarce. This is yet another way Texas is leading the nation in the fight against cancer,” Wayne Roberts, CEO of CPRIT, says in a news release.
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