OncoResponse Buys Paganini Biopharma to Add Cancer Drug to Pipeline

Houston—OncoResponse has acquired biotech startup Paganini Biopharma in a move that brings a clinical trial-ready compound to the Houston cancer drug developer.

No financial terms were disclosed for the deal, which was announced Tuesday. But the acquisition complements the pipeline of OncoResponse, whose research focuses on antibody cancer drugs. Los Angeles-based Paganini’s lead drug, ONCR-201, is a monoclonal antibody developed to target epithelial membrane protein 2, a protein shown in research to have a role in ovarian cancer. Paganini’s drug is based on research from the University of California at Los Angeles. The Paganini drug is on track to start tests in humans in 2019, said Cliff Stocks, OncoResponse’s CEO.

The deal came together because Paganini had approached one of OncoResponse’s investors for funding, Stocks explained. “They didn’t have the team in place and our venture firm asked us if we’d like to think about bringing this into the company because we do have the team to move it to clinical studies,” he said.

OncoResponse has two antibodies targeting lung and gastric cancers currently in animal studies, he said, adding that the company has completed its Series A fundraising of $22.5 million from investors such as Arch Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, among others.

The company is part of a growing cohort of biotechs developing immunotherapies, which involve stimulating a patient’s own immune system to attack and kill cancer cells.

OncoResponse was founded two years ago when Theraclone, Seattle biotech company, and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center announced the formation of a new company seeking to find personalized antibodies that help fight cancer. Theraclone is a therapeutic antibody discovery company that developed an antibody for a cure for HIV. “Theraclone is now a virtual company that is managing the assets that it had developed,” Stocks said. “They’ve got that antibody so now they are moving it forward with the intention of using it to find an HIV cure.”


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