Cancer is one of the most deadly diseases and is estimated to affect one in three people, especially in the western world. WHO (World Health Organisation) claims that there has been a 70% increase in the number of cancer cases across the world with the number continuously on the rise each year. In addition to being deadly, cancer treatment costs a bomb, at least for the common people.
New improvements in cancer treatment
The cellular and micro-environmental processes in chronic fibrosis and cancer are identical. Swiss clinical stage biotechnology company iOnctura is building on this link to develop a pipeline of next generation, differentiated molecules that are at the forefront of pioneering new therapies for the treatment of cancer.
Founded in 2017 as a spun out from Merck and backed by M Ventures, iOnctura’s programmes harness the combined effect of direct anti-tumour and immune-mediated activity. It intends to deliver molecules with superior safety and clinical efficiency in oncology.
The lead program of iOnctura, IOA-244 entered the clinic in the first quarter of this year. The study intends to clinically demonstrate for the first time that a highly selective PI3Kδ inhibition drives an immune-mediated response and a direct anti-tumoural effect in a stratified patient population across multiple solid tumour indications. The company’s second program is a novel autotaxin (ATX) inhibitor for patients with solid tumours burdened with cancer-associated fibrosis.
Investment to accelerate development of therapies
In a recent development, iOnctura announced that it has raised an additional €5.1 million, which takes the Series A funding round to €20.1 million. The funding round was led by 3B Future Health Fund (formerly) Helsinn Investment Fund S.A. along with SICAR, which joins the existing blue chip investor syndicate of M Ventures, INKEF Capital, VI Partners, and Schroder Adveq.
The Swiss biotech will use the investment to accelerate the development of its next-generation dual immune and tumour targeting therapies. It is expected to bring its ATX-inhibitor with dual utility in organ specific and cancer associated fibrosis into human testing in early 2021. Recently, the company strengthened its team by roping in Dr. Joanna Horobin as Chair.
Catherine Pickering, Chief Executive Officer of iOnctura, said: “I am pleased to welcome 3B Future Health Fund to our strong investor syndicate. This oversubscribed Series A round provides further validation and support of our strategy as we progress our novel, highly selective, PI3Kδ inhibitor and our differentiated ATX inhibitor through clinical development.”
Riccardo Braglia, 3B Future Health Fund Chairman and Helsinn Group Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We look to invest in early-stage companies which are developing novel treatments in areas of high unmet patient need. We have been very impressed with the world class team at iOnctura and the potential of its next generation molecules targeting cancer and fibrosis.”
Stock photo from CI Photos/Shutterstock