iOnctura raises €17.5M for pancreatic cancer therapy

Pancreatic Cancer

iOnctura BV, a clinical-stage biotech developing novel cancer therapies, has been granted €17.5 million ($18.6 million) funding from the European Investment Council’s (EIC) accelerator program to develop IOA-289 for pancreatic cancer. 

The EIC’s funding consists of a grant of €2.5 million ($2.7 million), and €15 million ($16 million) of equity investment.

Earlier this month, iOnctura announced the first patient was dosed in a phase Ib clinical trial of IOA-289 in metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Catherine Pickering, chief executive officer of iOnctura, said: “We are delighted to announce this funding from the EIC to support the clinical development of IOA-289 for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the only cancer with mortality on the rise in both sexes and is currently the third largest cause of death by cancer in the U.S., and the fourth in Europe.

“There’s an urgent need to develop new therapies for pancreatic cancer and preclinical data demonstrate that IOA-289 offers a new approach, through a multi-pronged mechanism that addresses three hallmarks of cancer: fibrosis, immune suppression and tumor cell proliferation.”

Maximum funding for iOnctura

iOnctura was granted the maximum allowed funding in appreciation of the significant potential of IOA-289, a highly-selective, first-in-class autotaxin inhibitor, to transform the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The judging panel recognized its unique ability to simultaneously target independent tumor survival pathways associated with tumor proliferation, fibrosis and immune suppression.

Funding came as part of the most recent tranche of grants from the EIC accelerator program under Horizon Europe, that aims to accelerate deep tech start-ups through grants and equity investments. For this second wave of grants, the European Commission selected 78 start-ups for funding during a highly competitive process. 

In all, 240 companies were interviewed by juries of investors and entrepreneurs out of a total of more than 1,000 applications. The selected companies will together receive up to €470 million ($500 million) of funding in a combination of grants and equity investments.

The phase Ib AION-02 study is a dose-escalation study of IOA-289 in combination with standard-of-care gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel chemotherapy in first-line metastatic pancreatic cancer.

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