MD Anderson, Theraclone Sciences form OncoResponse

MD Anderson News Release 10/06/2015

OncoResponse, an immuno-oncology antibody discovery company, has been launched jointly by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Theraclone Sciences.

OncoResponse will use Theraclone’s I-STAR™ immune repertoire screening technology to identify therapeutic antibodies against novel targets from immuno-oncology treated patients. I-STAR technology rapidly screens antibodies made by the human immune system to identify those with exceptional reactivity that may lead to cancer treatment development. MD Anderson will provide access to samples and physiologic, prognostic and genotypic data from patients who have responded well to cancer immunotherapies, along with oncology and translational medicine expertise.

“The immune system of patients who have responded exceptionally well to cancer immunotherapies may hold the key within their memory repertoire as to what gives them an edge over other patients with less robust immune responses. It could provide us with a way to increase success rates in treating cancer,” said Clifford J. Stocks, CEO of OncoResponse. “I-STAR immune repertoire screening technology has the unique capability to identify rare cancer-fighting antibodies and new targets. We’re extremely excited to have teamed up with MD Anderson experts to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer and their families.”

“Immunotherapy will continue to be of utmost significance for our patients who rely on us to provide them with the very latest in treatment options,” said Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Through strategic alliances, we aim for more timely delivery of therapies that will enhance their quality of life and successfully treat their disease.”

The new company announced the closing of a $9.5 million Series A financing co-led by ARCH Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and MD Anderson. Rice University and Alexandria Real Estate Equities also participated.

The OncoResponse launch is the latest in collaborative efforts by MD Anderson that are facilitating further development of a biotech hub in Houston, attracting blue chip investors such as ARCH, Canaan Partners and others. These collaborations represent a growing trend in alliances between the pharmaceutical industry and biomedical research and health care institutions.

“With MD Anderson, OncoResponse has partnered with an institution and people with countless years of experience in research and treatment in oncology. We’ll gain access to data, information and the immune system memory cells from those patients who are elite responders to cancer immunotherapies. That, coupled with the experience of the Theraclone team, which has overseen the discovery and development of several relevant product candidates from the I-STAR technology in multiple therapeutic areas, makes OncoResponse a sound investment,” commented Steve Gillis, Ph.D., managing director of ARCH Venture Partners.