ROCKVILLE, MD & BOSTON, MA – An AIM-HI Accelerator Fund portfolio company exclusively focused on the development of pediatric cancer therapeutics has garnered recognition and additional funding. Oncoheros Biosciences Inc. won the Squinto-LePera Award at the Lyfebulb-Helsinn Cancer Innovation Summit held in Monaco and secured up to $1.1 million in new investment from Dreamers Startup Ventures.
The international Squinto-LePera Award highlights promising oncology start-ups whose founders are themselves cancer patients, survivors or family members to those with the disease. Oncoheroes’ co-founders, CEO Ricardo Garcia and COO Cesare Spadoni, Ph.D., are both fathers touched by cancer. The company was one of the finalists invited to pitch to a judging panel of professionals in the cancer, healthcare and business communities assembled by Lyfebulb, a U.S. chronic disease management platform provider, and Helsinn, a Swiss pharmaceuticals company specializing in products mitigating cancer chemotherapy side effects.
Dreamers Startup Ventures, with offices in the U.S and Spain, is an early stage investor targeting biopharmaceutical and health care companies, as well as those in the artificial intelligence field that are focused on life sciences. It recognizes Oncoheroes’ strategy of focusing on pediatric oncology drugs, which offers hope for unmet needs of childhood cancer patients and regulatory advantages of speedier market access and lower development costs relative to therapeutic candidates for more common illnesses.
Oncoheroes was established in 2017 with an initial grant from the National Foundation for Cancer Research and seed investment in 2019 from AIM-HI. The company is led by a highly experienced management, research and regulatory team, with specialties in drug screening, discovery and early stage clinical trials. Its scientific advisory board includes Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Children’s Oncology Chair Peter Adamson M.D., Ph.D., Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center Experimental Therapeutics Director Steven Dubois, M.D., and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles Basic and Translational Cancer and Blood Disease Section Head Lee Helman, M.D.
The start-up has built an active collaborative platform with international pediatric oncology networks and, in September 2019, in-licensed volasertib from Boehringer Ingelheim. The drug candidate, initially developed as a treatment for leukemia, is an inhibitor of the enzyme PLK1, which is known to be associated with various cancers. Independent academic groups have generated strong data in support of developing the compound for rhabdomyosarcoma and other pediatric cancer indications. Additional assets are being explored to fill out Oncoheroes’ pipeline.
“Oncoheroes is proud of receiving the 2020 Squinto-LePera Award and Dreamers Startup Ventures’ funding,” stated Mr. Garcia. “Like our partnership with and investment from the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund, they validate and build upon our goal of making a difference for pediatric cancer patients and their families.”
“I am happy to see the considerable progress made by Oncoheroes so far,” said Sujuan Ba, Ph.D., president and CEO of the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund. “Pediatric cancer is a scourge yet not many groups are funding it.”
“We must change this fact,” Dr. Ba continued. “I am gratified that others, such as Lyfebulb, Helsinn and Dreamers Startup Ventures, are joining AIM-HI in our efforts to make an impact toward saving children’s lives.”
The AIM-HI Accelerator Fund is an independent 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, established with an initial grant from the National Foundation for Cancer Research with the vision to accelerate the translation of cancer drug discoveries by investing in seed-stage companies. It is a new paradigm through venture philanthropy to fund start-up oncology companies that commercialize innovative laboratory breakthroughs which can potentially save cancer patients’ lives.
Oncoheroes is a biotech company exclusively focused on the discovery and development of better drugs for children and adolescents with cancer. Its vision is to deliver benefits to young cancer patients and create value in the process. The management team is formed by drug development and industry professionals in the U.S. and Europe. Click Here to visit company website for more information.