Oncorus: Going Viral To Beat Cancer
This week’s “2017 NEVYs Nominee Spotlight” is on Oncorus, a nominee for Hottest Early Stage Startup — Therapeutics. Today we’ll delve into why their work is so impactful to this region, and patients everywhere.
Germinating an idea
The approval in 2015 of Amgen’s IMLYGIC® (talimogene herparvovec), or T-VEC, established a clear regulatory path for the development of oncolytic virus immunotherapy. But how do you make T-VEC better?
Co-founded by industry veteran Mitchell Finer, Ph.D., former CSO of bluebird bio and a managing director at MPM Capital, Oncorus uses a next-generation oncolytic herpes simplex virus (oHSV) immunotherapy platform to improve upon first generation oncolytic viruses. Oncorus’s oHSV platform is based upon the work of renowned scientists Joseph Glorioso III, Ph.D., and Paola Grandi, Ph.D., both from the University of Pittsburgh and who serve on Oncorus’s Scientific Advisory Board. In addition to licensing certain patent rights from the University of Pittsburgh, the company has a number of other filed and licensed patents that make up its intellectual property portfolio.
BioSpace (DHX) is proud to present its NextGen “Class of 2017,” which is a list of 20 up-and-coming life science companies that launched no earlier than 2014.
To come up with this Top 20, BioSpace sorted companies into that age grouping, and they were then weighted by a number of different categories and finally ranked in a cumulative fashion, based on the points awarded for each category. These categories were: Finance, Collaborations, Pipeline, Sales and Editorial (view methodology).
The NextGen Bio Class of 2017 is a stellar group of companies that are already making an enormous impact on the industry now and in the future. Congratulations!
In 2017, Massachusetts claimed nine companies in the Top 20 and regained the top spot. California slipped from the top spot on this list compared to last year with eight companies in the Top 20, followed by one company each in New York, North Carolina and Missouri.
Cancer-killing viruses are specially engineered versions of naturally occurring viruses that are programmed to home in on cancer cells and kill them without harming normal tissues. This is a branch of immuno-oncology that has been overshadowed by more fruitful endeavors, such as the immune checkpoint inhibitors Opdivo (nivolumab) from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) from Merck, both of which are now certified cancer blockbusters. But several companies are developing cancer-killing viruses, known in the scientific community as “oncolytic” viruses, and some of those efforts are starting to show promise.
The scoop: This startup is pinpointing next-gen oncolytic viruses, which could offer a less expensive, more efficacious immuno-oncology option than cellular therapy, such as autologous CAR-Ts in development. It’s going straight for the hardest-to-treat solid cancers, including a type of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).
"Newly unveiled Oncorus has raised a $57 million Series A to back its efforts to use next-gen oncolytic viruses to treat aggressive cancers including a type of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Active strategic investor Celgene ($CELG) participated in the financing, which was led by MPM Capital."
"The Cambridge, Massachusetts, startup launched on Tuesday announcing that it has raised $57 million in a Series A funding round. Oncorus aims to develop a next-generation immunotherapy platform of oncolytic viruses to treat various kinds of tumors, including highly malignant and aggressive cancers such as glioblastoma multiforme."