Founded earlier this year to build a pipeline of cancer drugs, Coronado Biosciences Inc. licensed its first compound, a preclinical Bcl-2 inhibitor, for development against multiple cancer types.

The company entered an agreement with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif., for exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize Apogossypol, a small-molecule antagonist of Bcl-2, a protein class responsible for cancer cell survival and resistance to cancer cell therapies.

The company expects to file an investigational new drug application in mid-2008 to begin clinical trials of Apogossypol, said Bryan Leigh, chief medical officer for Paramount BioSciences, the investment firm that established Coronado.

Once it trials, the drug "hopefully, will reverse resistance by blocking" Bcl-2, Leigh said, which could make it a potential treatment to any cancer expressing Bcl-2, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma, as well as solid tumors such as breast, prostate and small-cell lung cancers.

The agreement with the Burnham Institute calls for Coronado to handle all development and commercialization activities. The company agreed to pay an up-front fee and milestone payments of up to $15 million, plus royalties on product sales.

Coronado, named after an island town in the nearby San Diego bay, is the latest in a long string of start-ups by Paramount BioSciences, which has created nearly 50 biotech firms in the past 20 years, with about half of those forming within the last three years.

Recent Paramount start-ups include San Diego-based Hillcrest Therapeutics Inc., which develops drugs for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases; Laguna Hills, Calif.-based Alacrity Biosciences Inc., which has an ophthalmic focus; and Atlanta-based Tikvah Therapeutics Inc., which works on products for central nervous system diseases.

The goal with Coronado was to "create a company around oncology therapeutics" that had been in-licensed or were in the process of being in-licensed by Paramount, Leigh said. The company's focus is on products in late preclinical and clinical development, while staying away from early research and discovery work. "That saves a lot of time and expense and keeps the company focused," he told BioWorld Today.

Like its other ventures, the firm will be funded initially by Paramount, which aims to support the new company to the point where it can "get off the ground and is able to attract investors," Leigh said.

To get to that point, Paramount is searching actively for a CEO and management team for Coronado, and also is in the process of bringing in additional compounds for further development against cancer. In fact, Leigh said, "we expect a lot of news in the upcoming weeks."

The company's long-term goal is to "develop into an integrated biotech company," with its own sales force and marketing division, he said, though Coronado likely will "remain flexible" with regard to partnership opportunities.

No Comments