Oncurious, BioInvent start trial to revitalize Roche-rejected cancer drug


ThromboGenics (EBR:THR) spinout Oncurious has advanced its plan to revitalize the prospects of an oncology drug that Roche ($RHHBY) turned its back on in 2012. The latest step in the strategy is the start of a Phase I/IIa trial, for which Oncurious and its partner BioInvent (OMXS:BINV) have enlisted the help of the Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC).

NMTRC, a consortium of 25 academic medical centers and other sites, is giving the European biotech partners access to a network of investigators in the U.S. Oncurious and BioInvent, a Swedish biotech that first partnered with ThromboGenics in 2004, are looking to tap into the network to support the enrollment of 27 patients with relapsed or refractory medulloblastoma, a rare, potentially fatal type of brain tumor that is most commonly seen in children.

BioInvent and ThromboGenics decided to target medulloblastoma following the release of a paper in Cell in 2013, in which researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Belgium’s VIB identified a link between placental growth factor (PIGF) and that form of brain cancer. VIB, a life science research institute, subsequently picked up a minority stake in Oncurious, a biotech set up by ThromboGenics to test the PIGF-targeting monoclonal antibody TB-403 in medulloblastoma in the clinic.

“Given the encouraging preclinical data generated with TB-403 in Leuven and Boston, we are hopeful that this novel antibody, targeting placental growth factor, will provide an improved treatment option for children afflicted with this lethal brain tumor,” Oncurious Executive Chairman Dr. Patrik De Haes said in the statement.

Oncurious and BioInvent are running a little behind schedule--the plan this time last year was to get enrollment underway by the end of 2015--but don’t expect to have to wait too much longer to get a look at whether the medulloblastoma-focused reboot of TB-403 has legs. The publication of initial results is penciled in for 2017.

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