ThromboGenics NV has announced the foundation of Oncurious NV, a new oncology company that will develop TB-403 for the treatment of pediatric brain tumors. VIB, a leading life sciences institute in Flanders (Belgium), will become a shareholder alongside ThromboGenics in this new oncology venture. ThromboGenics will be the majority shareholder.
TB-403 is a humanized monoclonal antibody against placental growth factor (PlGF). PlGF is expressed in several types of cancer, including medulloblastoma. High expression of the PlGF receptor neuropilin 1 has been shown to correlate with poor overall survival. Medulloblastoma is a rare, life-threatening brain tumor that mainly affects children.
Treatment with TB-403 in relevant animal models for medulloblastoma has demonstrated beneficial effects on tumor growth and survival. The antibody can potentially be used in other pediatric cancer indications, including neuroblastoma.
In February 2013, a paper in Cell (Cell, 152, 1065-76, 2013) highlighted for the first time that PlGF plays a vital role in the brain and that its expression is required for the growth and spread of medulloblastoma. The paper was based on pre-clinical research conducted by Prof Rakesh Jain from the Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard (Boston) and the team of Prof Peter Carmeliet from VIB/ KU Leuven.
Oncurious now plans to start a Phase I/IIa program with TB-403 in medulloblastoma patients. Enrollment of the first patient is expected for the end of 2015.
The favorable safety profile of TB-403 has already been demonstrated in clinical trials in patients with other diseases.
Dr Patrik De Haes, CEO of ThromboGenics said, “The formation of Oncurious is an important development for ThromboGenics, which will allow us to even more focus our efforts on achieving our goals in the ophthalmology space. This new venture should also enable an acceleration of the development of TB-403 for the treatment of medulloblastoma, a devastating cancer that affects children and adolescents. I would like to thank VIB for supporting us in this new venture and for providing access to exciting basic research that, in time, will allow Oncurious to build an oncology pipeline.”
Johan Cardoen, Managing Director of VIB said,” We are excited that we can jointly translate the potential of VIB research by Prof. Peter Carmeliet into a reality for patients. We believe that TB-403 has the potential to greatly improve the treatment of medulloblastoma and a number of other pediatric tumours, an area of great medical need. This collaboration illustrates the value of excellence-driven basic research at VIB and ThromboGenics, and the pro-active approach to “make the difference for patients”. We are confident that together with ThromboGenics, we can develop Oncurious into a leading oncology company.”
BioInvent International AB will act as a co-development partner for this oncology project.
ThromboGenics has retained the exclusive license for use of TB-403 in ophthalmic indications.