ONCOCEUTICS Press Release - May 29, 2009
Philadelphia, PA (May 29, 2009) - Oncoceutics, Inc. announced today its formation with the mission of developing novel therapies for unmet medical needs in oncology. The company's lead initiative is the development of a drug compound using technology developed from research conducted by Wafik El-Deiry, a physician-scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, to restore tumor suppressor pathway signaling in tumors with a primary focus on mutant p53 proteins.
The restoration of the tumor suppressor function has been the subject of intense research and development efforts in the past. And while the selective repair of mutated p53 using gene therapy has shown promise, the transformation of genetic approaches into medical practice has been hindered by practical delivery as well as by safety considerations. Recently, however, Dr. El-Deiry has identified drug candidates that restore the tumor suppressor pathway by repairing specific critical tumor suppressor functions at the protein level, giving cells the behavior pattern of normal cells and showing that such treated proteins exert an anti-tumor effect in tumor-bearing mice.
The principal founders of Oncoceutics are Wafik El-Deiry, M.D., Ph.D., Wolfgang Oster, M.D., Ph.D., Lee Schalop, M.D., and The University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. El-Deiry, chair of the company's Scientific Advisory Board, is a Professor of Medicine (Hematology-Oncology), Genetics, and Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and an American Cancer Society Research Professor. He has studied the p53 pathway for nearly 20 years. He is credited with discovering the critical signaling molecule, p21WAF1. In addition, in his laboratory, he has identified several mechanisms by which p53 promotes death of tumor cells.
His recognized expertise in cell death mechanisms and tumor suppression have led to numerous chairmanships and organizing roles of international meetings in this specialty field, including the international conferences on Tumor Progression and Therapeutic Resistance, the AACR conference on Cell Death Mechanisms and Cancer Therapy, and the International p53 Workshops in Shanghai and Philadelphia.
Dr. Oster, the Chairman and CEO of Oncoceutics, is an oncologist with a remarkable track record of developing and launching oncology drugs, both as a biotech company executive and as an investor. Among his many accomplishments are serving as the Chief Medical Officer of U.S. Bioscience (acquired by Medimmune in 2000) and very recently as one of the principal investors and founding board members of BiPar Sciences, Inc. (acquired by Sanofi-Aventis in April 2009). As Managing Partner of Polytechnos Venture Partners, he has taken five of his investments to public markets in the U.S. and Europe.
Dr. Schalop, the Chief Business Officer at Oncoceutics, holds an MD degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and has an extensive business background and successful track record as an investment banker for 19 years at leading Wall Street firms, including Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and Banc of America Securities following graduating from Wharton Business School's undergraduate program. His fund raising activities include multiple public and private offerings, the largest of which raised over $700 million.
"This technology has the potential to transform oncology practice and represents a major ray of hope for cancer patients. I am delighted that the technology has found the attention of a team which has a strong track record of delivering on their promises," said Dr. George Ohye, a cancer survivor, former member of the board of U.S. Bioscience, former member of the board of Ortho McNeil Pharmaceuticals where he also held the concomitant position on the board of Johnsons & Johnson's Pharmaceutical Research Institute, and the first Industry Representative to be appointed to FDA's Oncology Drugs Advisory Committee.
Oncoceutics is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutic small molecules that restore the tumor suppressor function in patients with cancer. Oncoceutics initial drug development program is focused on compounds that restore p53 pathway signaling in tumors with mutant p53 proteins, the most frequently mutated tumor suppressor protein in human cancers. The p53 protein, often referred to as the "guardian of the genome," plays a critical role in repairing or forcing the self-destruction of cells with damaged DNA, the kinds of cells that can grow into cancer. Research has found that the p53 protein is mutated in most human cancers, especially in patients that fail first line therapies. As such, correction of defective p53 represents an unprecedented opportunity to significantly improve cancer treatment outcomes. The company believes that its world-class scientific and management team, and proprietary screening strategy and development plan represents a unique opportunity to significantly improve the outcome for difficult to treat cancers. The company is currently seeking investors to continue its efforts to bring new drug candidates to clinical development. (www.oncoceutics.com)
The mission of The University of Pennsylvania's Center for Technology Transfer ("CTT") is to transfer inventions and innovative knowledge to outside organizations for the benefit of society, including the licensing of Penn's intellectual property to established companies and new business ventures for product development and commercialization. CTT serves as a bridge between Penn faculty and researchers and the business community through the patenting, marketing and licensing of technologies developed and owned by the University of Pennsylvania. CTT encourages invention disclosure; protects Penn's intellectual property; obtains and manages patents, copyrights and trademarks derived from Penn's academic research. On the web at: www.upenn.edu/ct