CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(–)–Oncorus, Inc., an oncolytic virus company focused on driving innovation to transform outcomes for cancer patients, today announced the completion of an oversubscribed $79.5 million Series B financing.
Cowen Healthcare Investments and Perceptive Advisors co-led the financing, with participation from Oncorus’ syndicate of Series A investors including MPM Capital, UBS Oncology Impact Fund, Deerfield Management, Arkin Bioventures, Celgene and Astellas Venture Management. Additional new investors include Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), Sphera Funds, IMM Investment, QUAD Investment Management, UTC Investment, SV Investment Corp. and Shinhan Investment-Private Equity.
“Oncolytic virus therapies have the potential to transform outcomes for cancer patients,” said Theodore (Ted) Ashburn, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Oncorus. “We intend to use the proceeds from this oversubscribed financing to support our advancement of novel, proprietary intratumoral and intravenous approaches with the goal of addressing severe unmet medical needs in oncology. We’re thrilled to welcome Cowen Healthcare Investments, Perceptive Advisors and our other new investors and are grateful for the continued support of our existing investors.”
Oncorus plans to use the Series B proceeds to advance its lead candidate, ONCR-177, into the clinic in early 2020. ONCR-177 is an intratumorally administered oncolytic virus clinical candidate for multiple solid tumor indications. ONCR-177 is built on the company’s next-generation oncolytic herpes simplex virus (oHSV) platform, which enables the development of oncolytic viruses with unparalleled payload capacity for potent activation of multiple arms of the immune system. Oncorus’ oHSV platform also uniquely enables full replication competency and selective attenuation in normal tissues to cause not only direct tumor destruction, but also exposure of all neoantigens within a tumor to the immune system in a highly immune activating environment. Oncorus also intends to progress its innovative synthetic oncolytic virus platform, which employs a novel delivery methodology to enable repeat, intravenous (systemic) administration of oncolytic viruses for the treatment of cancers, particularly in indications such as lung cancer where repeat, intratumoral administration is not feasible.
“The oncolytic virus space continues to gain momentum, as signaled by continued investment from both financial and strategic parties. Oncorus is poised to become a leader in this emerging modality,” said Kevin Raidy, Managing Partner, Cowen Healthcare Investments. “There are significant distinctions among the various oncolytic virus platforms; we believe Oncorus is a standout in this class. We look forward to seeing Oncorus’ proprietary innovations translate in the clinical setting with the promise of dramatically improving clinical outcomes for cancer patients.”
“We’ve been impressed by the progress the Oncorus team has made to enhance potency while ensuring safety – a balance that has challenged the oncolytic virus space historically,” said Ellen Hukkelhoven, Ph.D., Managing Director, Perceptive Advisors. “Ted and the Oncorus team are truly committed to helping patients more effectively fight and defeat cancer. We look forward to working with the company as it transitions to the clinical stage and continues to advance its pipeline.”
Robert L. Kirkman, M.D. and Spencer Nam, M.B.A. will join Oncorus’ Board of Directors as part of this round of financing. Dr. Kirkman currently serves as Executive Chairman of Trillium Therapeutics, Inc. and was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Oncothyreon, Inc. Mr. Nam is a Managing Partner of KSV Global and previously worked as a senior research fellow at the Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
“We’re pleased to welcome both Robert and Spencer to Oncorus’ Board of Directors at this pivotal time for the company,” said Mitchell H. Finer, Ph.D., co-founder, founding CEO and Executive Chairman of Oncorus, and Executive Partner at MPM Capital. “This financing allows Oncorus to rapidly advance its lead program, ONCR-177, into the clinic, while also progressing its portfolio of innovative product candidates for repeat intravenous (systemic) administration.”
ONCR-177, an intratumorally administered oncolytic virus therapy for the treatment of multiple solid tumor indications, is built on Oncorus’ proprietary, next-generation oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV) platform. ONCR-177 is armed with five transgenes, IL-12, CCL4, FLT3L, and CTLA-4 and PD-1 antagonists – representing the largest payload in the oncolytic virus therapy class – for the stimulation of multiple arms of the immune system. ONCR-177 is also a fully replication-competent virus in that it retains the ability to express γ34.5, which allows the virus to replicate in the presence of host antiviral immune responses, a feature unique among oncolytic HSV therapies. The ability to develop a heavily armed virus with native replication competency is enabled by propriety safety strategies that involve micro-RNA (miR) attenuation and inactivation of neuronal retrograde transport to enable selective and unattenuated viral replication in tumor cells, while preventing replication in healthy tissues. Oncorus presented preclinical data supporting the clinical advancement of ONCR-177 at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting earlier this year.
At Oncorus, we are driving innovation to deliver next-generation, best-in-class oncolytic virus therapies to transform outcomes for cancer patients. We are advancing a portfolio of intratumorally and intravenously administered oncolytic virus therapies for a broad spectrum of indications with significant unmet needs based on our oncolytic herpes simplex virus and synthetic oncolytic virus platforms. Our team has engineered proprietary, multidimensional innovations into both platforms to enable us to deliver on the full potential of oncolytic virus therapies to dramatically improve outcomes for cancer patients. Please visit www.oncorus.com to learn more.