OncoMed Pharmaceuticals - 2008 Fierce 15

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals

Based: Redwood City, CA
Founded: 2004
Website: www.oncomed.com

The Scoop: OncoMed is focused on one of the hottest areas of oncology--preventing cancer stem cells from causing deadly havoc. A huge pharma pact with Glaxo could set the stage for a number of follow-up deals for a company that has already fueled its growth with more than $100 million in venture funds. OncoMed is shedding its stealth mode and has a lot to talk about.

What makes it Fierce: Up until recently, OncoMed has specialized in keeping its scientific progress under wraps. A huge pact with GlaxoSmithKline last December only partially introduced the developer. But with a leading antibody ready for the clinic later this year and a large amount of IP work completed, the biotech is starting to come out of its shell. 

Stealth mode has been essential, says CEO Paul Hastings. "We've been consciously remaining stealth," he notes. "The company is only three-and-a-half years old, but we were in such a hot area."  

The company's scientific founder, Michael Clarke, has been a pioneer in cancer stem cell research, offering key insights into the critical role they play in metastasis. Finding antibodies that could interfere in that process could create a slate of blockbuster therapies that have the potential to have an impact in a variety of cancers.  

GlaxoSmithKline got a close look at the company's work and wound up forging a $1.4 billion pact to win licensing rights to four antibodies. OncoMed never has revealed just how much of that was upfront, but Hastings tells FierceBiotech it was "multiple" millions.  

The company won't be short of money. A Series A netted $17 million. But Hastings is now ready to discuss a Series B--undisclosed at the time--which brought in a whopping $86 million. And Glaxo's not the only big pharma company to come calling. 

"Last year, when GlaxoSmithKline partnered with us, there were many others interested in that. I think we're going to have lots of options." 

"I would love to take OncoMed all the way," says Hastings. In the meantime, there are lots of ways to create value at the company, and that's part of his job description. 

What to look for: An IND later this year will complete the company's coming out. After that, the nature of its antibody work will create new partnership opportunities. Hastings says that the company now has the financing in place to continue its work into 2011, and that will give OncoMed plenty of time to assess new partnerships - perhaps even enough time for the public markets to turn around. 

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OncoMed Pharmaceuticals - 2008 Fierce 15