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Two early stage cancer therapy companies, Oncologic and Triton BioSystems, have merged to create Aduro BioTech. Aduro, which is privately held, will be headquartered at the former Oncologic facility in Berkeley, California.
Aduro will focus on the development of its proprietary and minimally invasive NT™ and TNT™ cancer therapies, which use patented iron oxide nano-particles to target and kill solid tumor cancers. The nano-particles are engineered to efficiently generate high levels of heat when exposed to an externally applied magnetic field, and this heat kills tumor cells without the toxicity or collateral damage that result from traditional chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
"There are several exciting aspects of the Aduro technology that we believe can offer significant improvements to current therapies," said Stephen T. Isaacs, CEO of Aduro. "We are developing a cancer therapy based on the low toxicity of iron oxide, which is an innocuous material currently used in a variety of medical applications. If successfully developed, the Aduro products will be an exceedingly important addition to the field of solid tumor cancer therapy."
According to the company, one of the major problems with current cancer therapy is the collateral damage to normal tissues, and that it's often not the failure of radiation or chemotherapeutic agent to kill the tumor that's the problem, but rather the inability to deliver a "knock-out" punch because of dose-limiting toxicity. The company believes that unlike radiation or chemotherapy, the Aduro NT™ and TNT™ particles will be innocuous until activation by an external (non-invasive) alternating magnetic field. Due to the low-toxicity of iron oxide and the targeting agents which guide the nano-particles to the tumor, Aduro believes its NT™ and TNT™ therapeutic products may be used at higher dose levels than current therapies, which in turn should provide significantly improved therapeutic outcomes.
Oncologic and Triton BioSystems Merge to Form Aduro BioTech
Mr. Isaacs said that the technology has been demonstrated to work in a murine (mouse) system with both direct and systemic infusions of the NT™ and TNT™ nano-particles. "We believe the NT™ (direct infusion) method is the shortest path to the clinic, and we hope to start a clinical trial for accessible head and neck cancer in 2009," Mr. Isaacs continued. "Our basic strategy is to be first to show direct clinical benefit with ‘thermal therapy' in humans, then to move on the more interesting systemic approach with the TNT™ method, which we believe holds promise for metastatic disease."
In 1991, Mr. Isaacs founded Cerus Corporation (NASD: CERS), where he served as CEO for fourteen years. During Isaacs' tenure, Cerus became a publicly traded company, entered several major corporate partnerships, raised over 250 million dollars, and brought its first product to market in Europe. He is joined by several seasoned cancer researchers, including Drs. Paul Chinn and Gary Braslawsky, who worked together at Biogen-Idec, where they led the development of Zevalin®, an FDA-approved radio-pharmaceutical used for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a blood cancer).
Aduro BioTech simultaneously closed on its Series A financing round, which included a consortium of insiders and new investors. Terms of the financing were not disclosed.
© 2008 Aduro BioTech, Inc. TNT™ and NT™ are trademarks of Aduro; Zevalin®is a registered trademark of Cell Therapeutics, Inc.
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David S. Rose
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