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Consider today's press release Oncorus®, Inc. Launches with $57 Million Series A Financing. This was a topical, straightforward, sizable, early-stage (Series A) biotechnology startup company financing by notable financial (MPM) and corporate (Celgene) life sciences investors of a cancer treatment approach akin to Provectus'. The scientific basis for the company and financing (the "scientific founders," or foundation, so to speak) is the work by Drs. Joseph Glorioso III, PhD and Paola Grandi, PhD around oncolytic viruses, intralesional or intratumoral injection, and immunotherapy.
Also consider a PubMed search of "glorioso grandi." From this search, further consider, for example, (from where the basis for Oncorus may have come) Grandi et al., "Design and application of oncolytic HSV vectors for glioblastoma therapy," Expert Rev Neurother. 2009 Apr; 9(4): 505–517. Aside from improvements over injectable oncolytic viruses, it's still intratumoral injection as the route of delivery.
It also is still injection of a biologic, and therein lies the "rub." Said another way: What I know now could be what I wished I knew then. Or perhaps said even another way: An entire pharmaceutical industry unsure or unable to consider or contemplate that the injection of a chemical (Rose Bengal/PV-10/a halogenated xanthene) -- not a biologic (e.g., a Rous sarcoma virus, a herpes simplex virus, a common cold virus, a CpG oligodeoxynucleotide, an avian paramyxovirus, etc.) -- can elicit a systemic immune response.
Recall St. Luke's Dr. Sanjiv Agarwala's presentation at 6th European Post-Chicago Melanoma/Skin Cancer Meeting. Setting aside Rose Bengal and chemotherapy cisplatin, I believe, everything other oncolytic agent is a biologic.
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Oncorus' algorithmic creation (by the VC MPM) and funding (by financial and corporate investors) in today's environment is proof positive the immuno-oncology space still remains wanting for a solution to vast amounts of unmet patient need, and that solution (or an important contributor to it) could be intralesional/intratumoral cancer therapy. Of course, what Oncorus is injecting is a biologic.
Provectus' data, in context, necessary and presumably sufficient to assuage the industry's concern over a [small molecule] chemical being capable of generating a systemic immune response are the results of the company's two ongoing melanoma trials, one of PV-10 as a monotherapy or single agent, and the other of PV-10 in combination with an immune checkpoint inhibitor.
Management teams, boards of directors, addressable markets, worth, valuation, etc.; those are all straightforward, and cut across industry sectors. But as a non-life sciences investor, perhaps I did not fully appreciate the apparent very high hurdle of the intralesional therapy of a small molecule chemical. Knowing what I know now, how would I have invested differently, if [I would have invested differently] at all...?
- Rous sarcoma virus: Allovectin-7 (Vical)
- Herpes simplex virus: talimogene laherparepvec/T-Vec/Imlygic (BioVex/Amgen), HF10 (Takara Bio)
- Common cold virus: CAVATAK/Coxsackievirus (Viralytics)
- CpG oligodeoxynucleotide: SD-101 (DynaVax)
- Avian paramyxovirus (Wolchok, Allison, etc.)