AURORA, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OncoVerity, a pioneer in applying advanced multiomic, data driven patient stratification to the development of human therapeutics in oncology, has secured worldwide licensing rights to cusatuzumab from argenx and received $30M in funding from argenx and a joint venture of UCHealth and University License Equity Holdings, Inc. on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus for its continued development. Cusatuzumab is a first-in-class anti-CD70 antibody that has generated promising results in early acute myeloid leukemia (AML) human studies. OncoVerity will optimize cusatuzumab’s continued development in AML and explore its application in other cancers.
OncoVerity is also announcing the appointment of Max Colao, MBA as Chief Executive Officer, and Dr. Clay Smith as Chief Medical Officer.
"We are thrilled to welcome Max and Clay to the OncoVerity leadership team. Together with Max’s extensive commercial leadership experience and Clay’s proven track record in research and development, we are confident that will drive growth and expansion as we enter the next phase of development,” said Arjen Lemmen, Vice President, Corporate Development and Strategy at argenx, and OncoVerity Board Member.
Mr. Colao has over 30 years of biotechnology leadership experience. In his most recent position, he served as the Chief Commercial Officer of Aurinia, where he built out the commercial team through launch. Prior to that, Mr. Colao held senior roles of increasing responsibility at Alexion, where he led the US commercial operations and built out the new business units in launching several rare disease therapies. He also spent over 20 years at Amgen, where he launched multiple therapies in the areas of hematology, oncology, and autoimmune disorders supporting Amgen’s growth from small to large biotech.
Dr. Smith joins OncoVerity with more than 30 years of experience in oncology research, clinical care and clinical trials. He was previously Professor and Associate Chief of the Hematology Division at the University of Colorado. He was also the Director at UCHealth Blood Disorders and Cell Therapies Center. With the support of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and UCHealth, Dr. Smith and his team pioneered the clinical and single cell multiomics infrastructure necessary to support, de-risk, and accelerate the development of this innovative therapy. Throughout his career, Dr. Smith has published over 150 scientific articles.
“I am excited to lead OncoVerity to its next phase of development and believe that the licensing of cusatuzumab and new funding demonstrate our commitment to advance novel cancer therapies in areas of high unmet need,” said Max Colao. “OncoVerity’s differentiated approach and talented team put us in a strong position to answer unresolved disease and therapeutic questions in oncology. I’m grateful for the contributions of the University of Colorado and argenx in establishing OncoVerity and look forward to making significant progress on behalf of cancer patients around the world.”
“OncoVerity is an example of a unique partnership that bridges the best in research, healthcare delivery, and the use of advanced multiomic data science-driven drug development to bring cutting edge treatments to patients in the areas of greatest unmet medical need,” said Kimberly Muller, Executive Director, CU Innovations, Anschutz Medical Campus, General Partner, CU Healthcare Innovation Fund, and Board Member of OncoVerity.
"This is a very exciting time to be joining OncoVerity as we start this journey to advance cancer research and develop targeted therapies that can make a real difference in the lives of patients," said Dr. Clay Smith. "I am particularly enthusiastic about the potential for our work on cusatuzumab for the treatment of AML, a disease where despite many advances in the treatment paradigm there remains a significant opportunity to develop effective therapies that meaningfully prolong survival.”
Cusatuzumab is a monoclonal antibody targeting CD70, an immune checkpoint target involved in hematological malignancies, several solid tumors and severe autoimmune diseases. Cusatuzumab is designed to: block CD70, kill cancer cells expressing CD70 through complement dependent cytotoxicity, enhanced antibody-dependent cell-mediated phagocytosis and enhanced antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity, and restore immune surveillance against solid tumors (Silence K. et al. mAbs 2014; 6 (2):523-532). Cusatuzumab is currently being evaluated in patients with hematologic malignancies, including a Phase 2 trial in combination with azacitidine and a Phase 1b trial in combination with azacitidine and venetoclax in patients with newly diagnosed AML.
About Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Despite the advancements in medical research, there is still a significant lack of effective therapies to treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The five-year survival rate for AML patients remains the lowest of all blood malignancies (5-20%), and relapse is common. AML is a heterogeneous disease, which means that it can differ in its genetic and molecular characteristics from one patient to another. This makes it difficult to develop effective treatments that can target all types of AML. Innovative therapies and targeted treatment approaches that can improve the survival rates, reduce toxicity, and target specific subtypes of AML are urgently needed to address this unmet need.
OncoVerity is pioneering the use of a unique clinical and single cell multiomics database to better the lives of patients battling cancer. OncoVerity’s approach leverages the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and UCHealth infrastructure of single cell analysis capabilities for multiple types of -omic technologies including genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics, alongside one of the most comprehensive and highly curated AML patient databases to gain insights to tumor characteristics and therapeutic response Cusatuzumab is expected to be the first of many novel therapeutics that will benefit from the OncoVerity platform and differentiated approach to oncology drug development. In collaboration with world-renowned hematologists specializing in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), OncoVerity aims to develop cusatuzumab by truly understanding and acting upon the heterogeneous characteristics of AML.