Archived Press Releases
November 16, 2000
Onyvax Raises Euro17.5m To Fund Cancer Vaccine
Onyvax Limited (London, UK; www.onyvax.com) announces that it has
raised Euro17.5m of private funding; Euro5m each from lead investors
MB Venture Capital Fund I and the Merlin Biosciences Fund with the
remainder from existing investors - Euro5m from 3i, Euro1.7m from
S.R. One, Limited and Euro0.8m from Alta Berkeley Venture Partners.
Dr John Gonzalez and Dr Sue Foden will join the Board of Onyvax,
representing MB and Merlin respectively.
Founded in 1997, Onyvax is developing vaccines for the treatment
of cancer. Vaccines are widely used to educate the immune system
to attack targets such as bacteria and viruses and Onyvax believes
that the same principle can be used to stimulate an immune attack
on cancer cells. The new money will be used to fund an aggressive
program of clinical studies and to expand the research and development
It is increasingly accepted that long-term control of cancer will
require attack against multiple targets. Onyvax's first generation
vaccines use cancer cells themselves as the immune stimulus, thereby
including a very broad range of different cancer-specific targets.
The vaccine is not tailored to the individual and can therefore
be manufactured cost-effectively in bulk. Models have repeatedly
shown that this approach is likely to be superior to those employing
the patient?s own cancer cells.
A phase I/II study using Onyvax's cell-based prostate cancer vaccine,
in sixty patients with advanced disease, was recently completed
at St George?s Hospital. The study, conducted by Mr Roger Kirby
showed the vaccine to be safe and capable of generating cancer-specific
immune responses. Starting in early 2001, Onyvax will conduct a
phase II study in earlier stage patients.
Onyvax's cell-based colorectal cancer vaccine is currently being
used in a study at St. George's Hospital in patients with advanced
metastatic disease. This study began in 2000 and will recruit up
to 30 patients looking principally at the safety and immunogenicity
of the vaccine.
105AD7 is an antibody-based vaccine, originally developed at the
University of Nottingham, which mimics a target (CD55) which is
over-expressed in numerous cancers including those of the prostate,
colon and pancreas. 105AD7 is currently the subject of two studies,
one at University of Nottingham treating patients prior to surgery,
and a second at St George?s Hospital investigating its effects in
patients with advanced metastatic disease.
Anthony Walker, CEO said, "These new funds will enable us
to drive Onyvax through a number of key milestones over the next
three years, especially the proof-of-principle for the whole-cell
vaccine approach in prostate cancer. We have the ability to quickly
develop vaccines for a broad range of different cancers based on
the same technologies. In addition, we continue to look for other
opportunities in the field like 105AD7, licensed from the Cancer
Research Campaign, to augment our internal programs."
Dr Sue Foden said, "Onyvax's approach to the development of
an effective cancer vaccine is very exciting. The whole-cell approach
is appealing as it lets the immune system select the appropriate
targets rather than choosing one at random from the growing library
of tumor markers. The immunotherapy field is moving rapidly and
Onyvax has already established a leading position."
John Gonzalez said. "The Onyvax team has proved not only to
be highly effective in research but also capable of rapidly moving
candidate vaccines into the clinic. Whilst the Company is still
very young, we were impressed to see three products in clinical
trials, all with significant commercial potential."
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