Japan’s Oncolys invests £3m in adenovirus firm Unleash Immuno Oncolytics

pharmafile | February 20, 2018 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Research and Development, Sales and Marketing Oncolys, Unleash Immuno Oncolytics, pharma 

Unleash Immuno Oncolytics, a US firm focusing on the development of viral biologics in the treatment of cancer, has attracted the attention of publicly-traded Japanese firm Oncolys BioPharma, which has decided to invest $3 million in the St Louis-based start-up.

Both Unleash and Oncolys are in the development of oncolytic adenoviruses, which are specifically designed to spur the body’s immune system to attack cancer by invading the disease’s cells and enabling the body to recognise it, resulting in the death of the cancer and the virus.

The Japanese firm’s investment is meant to help progress Unleash’s lead programmes UIO-512 and UIO-702 to the clinical trial stage, with both having already produced promising results in animals models and human explants.

“We are honoured to initiate this partnership with the Oncolys team, also leading developers of oncolytic viruses, who assessed tremendous potential in Unleash’s technology,” remarked Unleash CEO Daniel Katzman. “Oncolys’ solid expertise in manufacturing and clinical development of oncolytic viruses is of great value for advancing our virus-based therapies through clinical trials.”

“This collaboration will allow us to expand our efforts in developing the next generation of oncolytic viruses for the treatment of cancer,” he added. “Labelled as promising for many years, now oncolytic viruses are in the forefront of cancer research. Unleash is positioned to become a leading player in this new field.”

Additionally, Oncolys is to put down another $330,000 to acquire an equity stake in Precision Virologics, a sister company of Unleash. Oncolys previously invested $500,000 into the company’s Zika and Chikungunya vaccine programmes last year.

Matt Fellows

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