Oncurious is an oncology company focused on the development of innovative medicines for the treatment of pediatric brain tumors.
Oncurious – treating Medulloblastoma
Medulloblastoma is a rapidly growing malignant primary brain tumor that originates in the cerebellum (the lower rear portion of the brain), also called the posterior fossa. This area controls balance, posture, and complex motor functions such as speech and balance. Medulloblastoma is the most common pediatric malignant brain tumor, accounting for 20% of all brain tumors in children. In the EU and US ~400 new patients are diagnosed annually, with boys being affected twice as much. The peak age of incidence is 3-5 years and ~80% of patients are diagnosed before 15 years old. Current treatment consists of surgically removing as much tumor as possible, followed by craniospinal (brain and spine) radiation and/or chemotherapy – generally in older children (>3 years). Although treatment improves survival, these regimens are highly toxic to the developing brains and are associated with significant morbidity. The prognosis is worse if the child is less than 3 years old, not enough tumor is removed or if there is any spread to other regions of the brain or body.
Placental growth factor (PIGF) plays a vital role in the brain. Its expression is required for the growth and spread of medulloblastoma. PlGF is up-regulated in the majority of medulloblastoma cancers regardless of the genetic subtypes. To a large degree, the growth factor is produced by the stromal cells surrounding the tumor cells. The functional model relies on binding of PlGF to the Neuropilin receptor. Moreover, high expression of Neuropilin 1 correlates with poor overall survival in medulloblastoma patients. Oncurious will initiate a Phase I/IIa clinical program with TB-403, a humanized monoclonal antibody against PlGF, for the treatment of medulloblastoma. Medulloblastoma tumor cells induce production of stromal PlGF to sustain a pro-survival state through paracine secretion of signalling molecules. This becomes a self-enforcing cycle. Disruption of this cycle through PlGF blockade resulted in direct anti-tumor effects in vivo, including tumor regression, decreased metastasis and increased survival. Indeed, blocking PlGF signaling in medulloblastoma mouse models resulted in tumor regression, decreased metastasis and improved survival.
Oncurious is a biotech company based in Belgium. Oncurious’ main shareholders are ThromboGenics NV, an integrated biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing ophthalmic medicines, and VIB, a leading life sciences institute in Flanders (Belgium).
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