OncoResponse has closed the acquisition of Paganini Biopharma, acquiring all of its assets including an anti-epithelial membrane protein 2 (EMP2) fully human monoclonal antibody, ONCR-201. EMP2 is implicated as an oncoprotein in cancer biology and in addition to its overexpression associated with tumor-promoting activities in various tumor types, it has been shown to play a role in signaling migration and invasion of cancer stem cells.
“EMP2 is highly over expressed in breast cancer including triple negative, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer as well as glioblastoma, and the anti-tumor effect of ONCR-201 in pre-clinical models is striking,” said Clifford J. Stocks, CEO of OncoResponse. “Preclinical data support the potential of ONCR-201 to work as both a highly-targeted monotherapy as well as synergistically in combination with immunotherapy and current standard of care. ONCR-201 is now on an IND-track toward first-in-human studies to begin in 2019.”
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Paganini Biopharma was founded on technology originated in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of the School of Medicine at UCLA under a license agreement from the UCLA Technology Development Group. Paganini co-founder Madhuri Wadehra, Ph.D., Associate Professor at UCLA, will be a consultant to OncoResponse.
ONCR-201 is a fully human recombinant monoclonal antibody developed to target and inhibit the function of epithelial membrane protein 2 (EMP2).
EMP2 is a cancer promoting protein, highly expressed in epithelial malignancies and associated with tumorigenesis, with triple negative breast cancer highly prominent on that list. EMP2 positive tumors have been shown to be more aggressive and invasive. Expression of EMP2 within the tumor correlates with faster disease progression and worse prognosis and is associated with the regulation of expression of several cancer stem cell-associated markers. Cancer stem cells, typically resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, are believed to be a main cause for cancer persistence and responsible for relapse, metastasis and rise of new tumors.
In preclinical studies, the administration of anti-EMP2 monoclonal antibody significantly reduces primary and secondary tumor load, and expression of cancer stem cell markers, and demonstrates benefit of survival that extends beyond cessation of treatment.