Archived Press Releases
December 18, 1997
Onyvax Receives £4.3m in Venture Financing
Onyvax, an early stage biotechnology company, established earlier
this year to develop cancer vaccines for the treatment of a range
of cancers, has attracted funding from a syndicate of investors
totalling over £4.3m to finance early clinical trials.
Funding was jointly led by the Cambridge office of investment capital
group 3i and Alta Berkeley. SR One, the venture capital arm of SmithKline
Beecham, and Alberville Investments, a company controlled by the
Peter Sager Wallenberg Charitable Trust, provided additional funds.
Based in London, Onyvax has been built around the work of Professor
Angus Dalgleish, a leader in the field of cancer vaccines, who holds
the Foundation Chair in Clinical Oncology at St. George's Hospital
Medical School and is visiting Professor of Oncology at The Institute
of Cancer Research. The other members of the management team are
Anthony Walker, Chief Executive and Peter Smith, Finance Director.
The company's non-executive Chairman is Barrie Haigh, founder of
Innovex, the world's largest pharmaceutical contract research and
sales organisation which merged with Quintiles in 1996.
The concept of mobilising the power of the immune system in the
fight against cancer dates back over a century. Onyvax believes
that recent breakthroughs in the fields of genetics, immunology
and oncology now provide the tools to direct the immune system to
attack cancer. Pre-clinical models of its vaccine strategy have
yielded compelling results and it is Onyvax's plan to enter the
clinic with a vaccine for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer
in around twelve months. Over time Onyvax's portfolio will broaden
to include vaccines for a range of major solid tumours.
Onyvax's vaccines are based on cell-lines derived from human tumours
which can be grown on an industrial scale. Such cell lines contain
numerous molecules that are specific for the tumour but which are
normally incapable of generating an effective immune response. By
modifying the cell-lines, Onyvax can dramatically increase the immune
response to these molecules.
Commenting on formation of Onyvax and its research, Chairman Barrie
Haigh said: "The effective treatment of most solid tumours
still represents a vast unmet medical need. It is Onyvax's mission
to develop treatment vaccines for a range of cancers to keep patients
in remission for an extended period. The administration of our vaccines
will not require a stay in hospital and should be virtually free
of side-effects making them a cost-effective addition in the fight
against cancer with a concomitant increase in the quality of life
Tim Brown of 3i Cambridge, on behalf of the investor syndicate
said; "This area of biotechnology is generating strong interest
from major pharmaceutical companies due to its potential to develop
therapeutics in large markets where there exist unmet medical needs.
In Onyvax we are backing a strong team including a leading authority
in the field who has already achieved promising pre-clinical results."