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12:00 AM
Jan 05, 2015
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

BETting early

Why Index-led syndicate favored quicker exit for cancer play Oncoethix

Index Ventures-backed oncology play Oncoethix S.A. traded potentially larger returns for a faster clinical program for the company's primary asset when the Phase II program became too big for the small biotech to handle.

On Dec. 18, Merck & Co. Inc. agreed to acquire the Swiss company for $110 million up front. Oncoethix's shareholders are eligible for up to $265 million in clinical and regulatory milestones.

The driver of the takeout was OTX015, a synthetic small molecule inhibitor of BET bromodomain containing 2 (BRD2), BRD3 and BRD4. Index identified the molecule as a candidate for Oncoethix, which licensed it from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. outside of certain Asian countries in 2012.

Bromodomain-containing proteins are epigenetic regulators that modulate chromatin remodeling and gene transcription. They are targets in certain genetically defined cancers, and can down-regulate expression of cancer-associated proteins, such as the v-myc myelocytomatosis viral oncogene homolog (MYC; c-Myc).

Oncoethix was founded in 2007 to leverage the drug development experience of co-founder and CSO Esteban Cvitkovic and colleagues gained at Cvitkovic & Associes Consultants S.A., a CRO focused on oncology that was acquired by AAIPharma Services Corp. in 2006.

Index seeded the company and was later joined by SV Life Sciences, Edmond de...

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