Western Oncolytics Receives $275,000 Seed Funding for Development of Cancer Immunotherapy
CLEVELAND, June 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Western Oncolytics Ltd., a biotech company specializing in immuno-oncolytic cancer therapies, has closed $275,000 in seed funding. The proceeds are planned to set a path toward clinical trials and execute initial manufacturing for its novel virus-based cancer therapy, which delivers genes to guide the immune system to kill cancer cells.
"We are thrilled by the commitment from our investors to support our efforts and advance this novel therapy," said Kurt Rote, Founder and CEO, Western Oncolytics. "For years there has been a lot of wishing for better cancer treatment, and we are now finally approaching this aim with such immunotherapies. This seed funding will allow us to continue our work to defeat a variety of cancers in a wide range of patients without the harsh side effects common to current treatments."
According to Rote, Western Oncolytics' virus-based therapy begins replicating as soon as it comes into contact with a cancerous cell or tumor allowing it to propagate at the site of the tumor. The therapy also expresses added genes that send signals to the immune system to tell the body to build an immunity against the cancer cells.
"No other oncolytic therapy offers the combination of immune-stimulating transgenes and surface modification featured in Western Oncolytics' therapy. This allows the genetically modified virus to reach more cancer cells and train the immune system to fight cancer," added Stephen Thorne, PhD, Professor at University of Pittsburgh and inventor of Western Oncolytics' therapy. "The goal of this unique immuno-oncolytic therapy is to have the virus to fight the disease directly while training the patient's own immune system to clear cancerous cells. By doing so, we can target tumors throughout the body, with minimal side effects, and in combination with other therapies."
Dr. Tony Reid, Director of Early Phase Clinical Investigation at University of California San Diego's Moores Cancer Center, is keen on seeing the development of therapies such as Western Oncolytics'. "Earlier treatments with oncolytic viruses showed remarkable responses in selected patients and had very manageable side effects. We need to continue this progress." Dr. Reid has treated hundreds of patients with oncolytic viruses and is an expert on gene therapy and cancer. "It will be great to see what Western's therapy does for patients."
In vivo results showed lasting tumor shrinkage and efficacy greater than earlier, clinically demonstrated immuno-oncolytic viruses. In comparison to other virus-based therapies, Western Oncolytics' includes not one, but several immune-modulating genes that call the patient's immune system to the tumor while making the tumor environment more amenable to immune activity. The company aims to initiate Phase I/II clinical trials, beginning with kidney cancer, and progressing into a range of other solid tumor indications including breast, ovarian, head and neck, melanoma, prostate, liver, pancreatic and colorectal.