NewCo on the block
By OMAR FORD
Medical Device Daily Staff Writer
OncoSec Medical (San Diego) isn't following the traditional path of a startup. While most small med-tech companies are often private when they begin, OncoSec went for the public route. The company, which is a little more than two months old, said that its drug-device combo for treating solid tumors feels like a sure thing and because of that, the firm wanted to start off public.
Already the company is looking toward taking its device, the OncoSec Medical System to late stage trials. It's a measure made possible by the firm signing an agreement with Inovio Pharmaceuticals (San Diego) for the purchase of certain non-DNA vaccine technology and intellectual property relating to electroporation technology useful for electrochemical and cytokine based immune therapies for treating solid tumors.
On Thursday, Medical Device Daily spoke with Punit Dhillon, president/CEO of OncoSec about the future of the company and the possible approval of its premiere device.
"OncoSec is a therapeutic oncology company that is leveraging the successful treatment of cancer for more than 400 patients in both early and late stage clinical trials," Punit Dhillon, told MDD. "We built this company based on the proprietary drug technology delivery system for a very targeted delivery of both chemotherapy agents as well as protein therapeutics. "We felt that being a public company would help us raise the money needed to execute this product."
He added, "we're a new company because we just formed in the middle of March, but it's not your typical startup because we're leveraging a lot of historical and clinical data, along with clinical experience."
The electroporation technology that OncoSec acquired is based on Inovio's electroporation technology platform that, in addition to DNA vaccines and immune therapeutics, can also be used to efficiently deliver a chemotherapeutic or cytokine agent for the treatment of cancer.
When these chemotherapeutic or cytokine agents are injected into a selected treatment area such as a tumor and the predominantly healthy tissue in the margin surrounding a tumor, they have been shown to selectively and quickly destroy the tumor and cancer cells in the tumor margin. The chemotherapeutic agent acts by directly killing cancerous cells at the delivery site. Cytokine agents act by inducing broad, non-antigen specific immune responses that have been shown to kill cancerous cells.
"The device part of the system that we have right now is a first generation is a first generation product that has been used in clinical trials," he said. "[The device] has a generator the size of a toaster oven and then is connected to an applicator. The applicator is a little larger than a pen and is what delivers the electricity or more accurately what creates the pores in the cell membrane wall, so there's better uptake of the agent."
OncoSec completed its acquisition of the technology from Inovio back in March and entered into a license agreement with Inovio. The company made an initial payment of $250,000 to Inovio, completing the closing requirements of the purchase and license agreement between the companies. The agreement requires OncoSec to make additional payments of $2.75 million by March 24, 2013, and pay a royalty on commercial product sales.
In March, the company also said that it issued 1,456,000 units at a price of 75 cents per unit for gross proceeds of $1,092,000. Each unit consisted of one share of common stock and one share purchase warrant entitling the warrant holder to purchase an additional share of common stock at a price of $1 per share for a period of five years from closing. Funding for the company so far is at $1.1 million.
"We will be raising additional funds before we commit to our clinical development plan, Dhillon said. "And the clinical development plan in the near term includes three phase 2 studies in immunotherapy."
The firm said that the OncoSec Medical System could serve a rather large market in the U.S.
"Our conservative estimate is at least four million people in the U.S.," Dhillon said of the number of patients the company could treat with the device. "Where the larger market lies is in emerging markets. That could exponentially increase [the market]."
Omar Ford; 404-262-5546;
Published May 6, 2011