Based: Cambridge, MA
Founded: 1999

Why It's Fierce: The six-year-old BioVex got started in the U.K., but it clearly sees its future playing out in the United States. Clinical trials involving its new drugs will be based in the U.S., U.S. venture companies will be wooed to take part in its next financing round and the U.S. will likely be the biggest market for its experimental cancer drugs -- if BioVex makes it to market approval. That helps explain why BioVex relocated its corporate headquarters from Oxford, England to the U.S. at the beginning of June, just weeks after the FDA cleared the way for a Phase II trial of its lead candidate -- the cancer vaccine OncoVex GM-CSF, an oncolytic virus for selectively killing tumor deposits -- for malignant melanoma. OncoVex is designed for dual action, killing tumor cells and excreting GM-CSF, an immune stimulating protein. BioVex plans to research OncoVex both as a vaccine and for local control -- such as reducing pancreatic tumors so that they are small enough to operate on. Phase I/II clinical testing of ImmunoVEX in malignant melanoma is underway. So far, BioVex has attracted about $60 million in venture capital, with all but one of the investors based outside the United States.

What to look for: Phase II of OncoVex should take a year, with data in the middle of next year. Figure another year to prepare a Phase III and possibly another two years for pivotal data. Another venture round will get started in the autumn.


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