Clifford Stocks’ upstart OncoResponse gains Baxalta backing

Lab work

Cancer immunotherapy upstart OncoResponse, founded by Theraclone CEO Clifford Stocks, can now add Baxalta to its expanding list of investors after the company signed up to help the embryonic biotech. 

The Houston-based company--which came into life in October and works in collab with MD Anderson--managed to raise $9.5 million in its Series A. It counted ARCH Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and MD Anderson as its leading backers.  

Today, Baxalta ($BXLT) can now be added to that list--pushing its total first round to $12.5 million.

The biotech is the brainchild of Stocks, who wanted to create a company focused on immuno-oncology antibody discovery. Theraclone focuses on its I-STAR platform that seeks targets in infectious disease and inflammation. 

The funds will now be used to support OncoResponse’s early-stage efforts to interrogate the humoral response of elite responders to cancer immunotherapy, and identify antibodies and potential targets for development.

With help from MD Anderson, which provides it access to patient samples as well as oncology and translational medicine scientists, OncoResponse uses its platform tech to screen antibodies made by the human immune system and identify those with exceptional reactivity to cancer immunotherapy.

And despite being on the cusp of being subsumed into Irish Big Biotech Shire ($SHPG) in a $32 billion merger deal, Baxalta is seemingly still keen to splash its cash in startups.

Just yesterday it announced a deal with Mayo Clinic and Velocity Pharma to help fund and launch their own startup, the subtly named Thunderbolt. The early-stage company begins life with a drug platform from Astellas that aims to target certain forms of lupus.

“We are pleased to welcome Baxalta to our solid team of investors,” said Stocks in a release. “Our current partnership with MD Anderson has seen significant progress, and this additional investment reinforces our continued commitment to the identification of rare cancer-fighting antibodies and novel targets that may lead to the development of improved cancer treatments.”

“This investment will assist OncoResponse in the advancement of its research programs which seek to develop a deeper understanding of the immune response in patients who have responded exceptionally well to cancer immunotherapy,” added Geeta Vemuri, managing venture partner at Baxalta, in the release.

“Their innovative approach is in line with Baxalta’s investment strategy to accelerate the development of cutting-edge biotechnologies that address unmet patient needs in hematology, immunology and oncology.”

- check out FierceBiotech’s Thunderbolt story
- see the release

Related Articles:
Hub-building MD Anderson partners with Theraclone on $9.5M biotech startup
Baxalta, Mayo and Velocity license Astellas lupus platform for upstart