OncoMed pockets $20M as it takes lead cancer antibody into trial

Redwood City, CA-based OncoMed hit an important milestone in its ambitious collaboration deal with Bayer Schering, earning a $20 million payday after the developer gained FDA acceptance for an IND needed to launch a Phase I dose-escalation study of an experimental antibody for cancer.

Last summer Bayer agreed to pay OncoMed up to $387.5 million for each new cancer stem cell and protein therapeutic program targeting the Wnt signaling pathway. And the biotech company is right on schedule with its lead antibody program. This particular Phase I program, dubbed OMP-18R5, showed promise in a preclinical study for its ability to decrease the number of tumor-initiating cells, or cancer stem cells.

"The acceptance from the FDA to begin clinical testing for OMP-18R5 represents an important milestone for OncoMed. OMP-18R5 is our first Wnt pathway program cleared to begin clinical trials, and we now have three novel agents in the clinic in multiple clinical trials," said OncoMed CEO Paul Hastings.

Cancer stem cells have become a hot target in the cancer drug development field. Prof. Andreas Busch, head of Global Drug Discovery at Bayer noted last summer that "anti-cancer stem cell research could turn out as one of the missing pieces in today's cancer therapy."

- here is the OncoMed release