Oxurion stops investing in cancer spinout, reduces head count

Oxurion is stopping investing in its oncology spinout and narrowing its focus to its two clinical assets. The restructuring will affect “a number” of people who work at Oxurion and put the biotech all in on two potential treatments for retinal vascular diseases.

Belgium-based Oxurion, the biotech formerly known as ThromboGenics, teamed up with life science research institute VIB to create oncology spinout Oncurious in 2015. The spinout was created to find a home for an antibody against placental growth factor. Roche licensed the drug in 2008 but returned the rights four years later, leaving Oxurion with an asset that no longer fit with its therapeutic focus.

Oncurious acquired immuno-oncology assets from VIB in 2017. None of those assets have reached the clinic, but they have become Oncurious’ primary focus. The molecule that got Oncurious started, TB-403, has been through one phase 1 trial in pediatric medulloblastoma since the spinout. 

Oxurion is stopping direct investment in Oncurious as part of a review that also led it to pull out of research in dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The changes will free Oxurion to spend its limited cash reserves on its two lead candidates. Oxurion ended last year with €24.8 million ($29.6 million) but secured up to €30 million in tranches over a 12-month period in April.

The cash will support development of two clinical candidates. Pan-RGD integrin antagonist THR-687 is set to enter a phase 2 clinical trial in diabetic macular edema (DME) soon. Oxurion sees potential to develop the drug in wet AMD and retinal vein occlusion, too.

Oxurion’s other prospect, plasma kallikrein inhibitor THR-149, is already in phase 2 DME patients who previously responded suboptimally to anti-VEGF therapy. Initial data from the midphase trial are due later this year.