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Oncternal is also testing the experimental drug in combination with paclitaxel, a chemotherapy, for women with metastatic breast cancer at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine. The cirmtuzumab program is backed by funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
The company is also in Phase 1 testing for another molecule, TK216, which is designed to inhibit a family of proteins associated with tumor cell growth; it’s being tested alone and in combination with vincristine, a chemotherapy drug, in patients with relapsed or refractory Ewing sarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Oncternal also plans to test the experimental drug in patients with relapsed acute myeloid leukemia. Oncternal also has a CAR-T program targeting ROR1 in preclinical development.
On Monday the combined company’s shares began trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol “ONCT.” The privately held Oncternal and GTx, which went public in 2004, announced in March that the companies had agreed to merge.
When the companies revealed the agreement, they said the merged entity would have about $26 million in cash and short-term investments—enough to fund Oncternal’s programs into the second quarter of 2020, including a Phase 2 study of cirmtuzumab and ibrutinib. The funds are also expected to cover studies of the drug focused on castration-resistant prostate cancer that was in preclinical development at GTx, in anticipation of asking the FDA for permission to start human testing.
Shareholders of Oncternal received roughly 75 percent ownership of the merged company, according to a news release. In addition to the remainder of the shares in the combined entity, GTx shareholders were also granted rights to some of the proceeds if Ocnternal sells or develops products using the programs and technology it received as a result of the merger.