Western Oncolytics recently announced it has raised $2.5 million through a Series A round of funding to invest in the development of its lead oncolytic drug, WO-12, a therapy designed to deliver multiple immunotherapies simultaneously and improve cancer treatment. This therapy delivers multiple immunotherapies as it selectively infects and counters cancer cells, a system that, according to Western Oncolytics, provides a safer and more effective method of treatment for several solid tumors.
“I am especially excited about WO-12 as a novel oncolytic immunotherapy that will be capable of simultaneously targeting cancer cells through multiple and synergistic mechanisms,” explained in a press release Dr. Stephen Thorne, PhD, Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, who invented Western Oncolytics’ therapy based on the vaccine that eradicated smallpox, the vaccinia virus.
“It has been designed to help a wider range of patients than other oncolytic immunotherapies. It is capable of being delivered by a standard IV and it utilizes an oncolytic virus that can be active in nearly any solid tumor tissue in the human body. It also combines with other immunotherapies or traditional oncology treatments to further benefit patients,” added Thorne.
WO-12 was designed to selectively replicate within and kill cancer cells while providing an immune response to tumors. Additionally, it was engineered to express specific genes that activate cancer-fighting T-cells and deactivate immune inhibition inside the tumor environment.
The therapy was also modified to prevent premature clearance from anti-viral immune responses in cancer patients, a problem that often narrows the effectiveness of oncolytic therapies. According to Western Oncolytics, WO-12 features a unique mechanism of action as an individual therapy, but it is also the only currently available treatment that comprises all of these elements in one single agent.
Previous studies conducted by Western Oncolytics demonstrated that WO-12 is significantly more effective than other immuno-oncolytics such as the clinically successful GM-CSF class of therapies. The therapeutic prototype was evaluated in a comparison study, in which participants achieved long-term survival when compared to GM-CSF oncolytic therapies.
The company expressed its enthusiasm about the study results and its plans to invest the $2.5 million raised through the Series A round of funding. “Western Oncolytics will be well supported with this experienced group of private investors who bring a wealth of knowledge and share our vision,” said CEO Kurt M. Rote. “We aim to deliver this novel therapy to the clinics and change how cancer is treated for the many patients in need.”