Oxurion. The name breathes perspective and focus, a clear vision for the future. It reflects the core ambitions of the company, formerly known as ThromboGenics, and supports its mission to prevent vision loss worldwide. CEO Patrik De Haes and Chairman Thomas Clay are more than proud to present the new name and brand.
“The new name comes from combining the words Oxygen and Orion”, explains CEO Patrik De Haes, MD. “Raising oxygen levels in cells plays a key role in helping prevent and reverse several key factors leading to diabetic eye disease. It’s our goal to target these with unique therapies, as early as possible, to deliver the optimal benefit for patients.”
“Orion is a character from Greek mythology. He was a god who was blinded but had his vision restored by Helios, the god of the sun. This reference captures our mission to enhance vision and fight blindness globally.”
The renaming comes as the company has reached major clinical milestones and is accelerating the development of its unique pipeline of disease-modifying compounds for diabetic eye disease. “We are also looking at expanding our drug development horizon with additional and new areas of back of the eye disease”, adds Patrik De Haes.
“We are definitely moving forward”, agrees Chairman Thomas Clay. “I’ve been on the company’s Board of Directors for many years now, and I can’t remember a more vibrant and exciting time than today.”
Clinical development milestones
Over the years the company developed deep expertise in back of the eye disorders. Research work yielded a unique development pipeline of disease-modifying drug candidates targeting the key segments of the diabetic eye disease market. In recent months Oxurion has reached important clinical milestones.
“We’ve initiated a Phase II clinical study evaluating anti-PlGF (THR-317) in combination with anti-VEGF for treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME)”, says CEO Patrik De Haes. “Today’s standard of care for persons with DME consists of repeated injections with anti-VEGF, making it fairly intensive for them. Moreover, not all patients respond well to anti-VEGF therapy. A combination approach to treating this multifactorial disease may provide better therapeutic outcomes for these patients.”
The drug’s potential benefits have already been validated in several publications, including Experimental Eye Research. This peer-reviewed journal published preclinical data from early research on THR-317. In their conclusion, the authors clearly confirm the compound’s efficacy as comparable to that of VEGF inhibitors and highlight its potential added ability to reduce inflammation and fibrosis. “We are very enthusiastic about publications like these from the scientific community. They validate the potential of our drug development pipeline,” says Chairman Thomas Clay.
And there’s more: new promising routes lie ahead with the molecule THR-149, a selective plasma kallikrein inhibitor, and THR-687, an integrin antagonist. “In May 2018 we enrolled the first patient in a Phase I clinical study evaluating THR-149 for treating DME. Later this year we plan to bring THR-687, an integrin antagonist, into the clinic. Preclinical research on this molecule yielded encouraging data showing this novel molecule’s potential for treating a broad range of patients with diabetic retinopathy, with or without DME,” adds Patrik De Haes.
With all three of these disease-modifying candidates, the company aims to generate value in the fast-growing diabetic eye disease market.
Expanding the horizon
“Deepening the company’s insights into back of the eye diseases and the hallmarks of diabetic retinopathy is an ongoing effort,” continues Thomas Clay. “As a biotech company, Oxurion wants to remain a leader in the retina field.”
Patrik De Haes confirms: “This is why our preclinical research team is constantly seeking new ways to add innovative targets to our discovery pipeline in diseases of the back of the eye.”
Global commercialization of JETREA®
Oxurion owns the global commercial rights to JETREA®, the only pharmacological vitreolysis drug approved for treating symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (sVMA, in the US) and vitreomacular traction (sVMT, outside the US).
“We are proud that our product, first introduced in 2013, has been approved in over 50 countries with nearly 30,000 patients being treated. Our dedicated Commercial Team is now setting up a full operational business unit and evaluating how best to capitalize on the drug’s global opportunities,” says Patrik De Haes.
Oncurious: fighting childhood cancer and exploring new assets in immuno-oncology
Oxurion is also the co-owner of Oncurious, together with VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology). Oncurious is conducting a clinical trial with the antibody TB-403 (anti-PlGF) to treat medulloblastoma, the most common life-threatening brain tumor in young children. Earlier this year, Oncurious stepped into the immuno-oncology area by acquiring a unique portfolio of next-generation immuno-oncology assets from VIB.
Patrik De Haes: “The compounds have an extraordinary scientific foundation of seminal work at the VIB-KU Leuven labs of Professor Massimiliano Mazzone and Professor Gabriele Bergers and the VIB-VUB lab of Professor Jo Van Ginderachter. With these new assets, Oncurious will start preclinical programs targeting a broad spectrum of cancers. We expect this effort to generate valuable outcomes within a few years.”
“As shareholder of Oncurious, we are focusing on generating value in the oncology segment that will then be invested in our drug development efforts,” confirms Thomas Clay.
Chairman Clay continues: “All of our clinical and preclinical programs were recognized this past year by scientists, retina specialists, our shareholders, and other stakeholders of the medical and eye community. Our promising landscape of next-generation treatments targets significant markets and confirms the unique position of Oxurion as a focused biotech company.”
“In fulfilling our mission we also keep reaching out to the broad eye community. It is vital that researchers, biotech companies and patient organizations join forces to offer better treatment options for vision problems and fight blindness worldwide,” CEO Patrik De Haes concludes.