“Cancer’s resistance to treatments is the biggest challenge faced today in oncology, and this resistance is the cause of death from the disease,” said Auriane Gamelin, MBA, Co-Founder and COO of OncoXome, the Seed-Stage Finalist of the Start-Up Stadium at the 2022 BIO International Convention in San Diego in June.
“At OncoXome, we consider cancer as smart, as a complex ecosystem that quickly adapts to aggressions and becomes resistant,” she told Bio.News in an exclusive interview after the convention.
Winning the Start-Up Stadium Challenge has allowed the company – which uses targeted exosome delivery of gene therapy to resistant cancers – to gain exposure from fellow professionals in the industry, Gamelin added.
Working with government to advance research
OncoXome’s innovation is to hack into exosomes’ content with gene therapy and to make use of CRISPR gene editing to ultimately induce cancer cell death.
Gamelin went on to explain that the company’s collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “will inform us as to which resistance mechanisms the cancer uses with our approach, so that we can prepare and get ahead of the disease and in turn help the patients in the long run.”
In addition, OncoXome is fully supportive of the Cancer Moonshot, the initiative launched in 2016 and reignited again in 2022 by the Biden administration with the goal of reducing the cancer death rate by 50%.
“This initiative has led to considerable advances in cancer research,” Gamelin said – which confirms the need for consistent involvement and boldness. Most importantly, the Cancer Moonshot “focuses on the patient,” Gamelin added, which is also a priority for OncoXome.
Oncology treatment in a post-COVID world and how to better support start-ups
As the world finds itself more than two years from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, oncology remains an urgent matter.
According to Gamelin, a challenge that the oncology space faces right now, just as it did pre-COVID, is that many biotech investors want quicker returns on investment. However, oncology research and development often takes a long time, and requires a longer-term outlook from would-be investors.
Easier access to early-stage capital, as well as easier and cheaper access to equipment and labs, is essential to facilitating innovation, said Gamelin.
Early-stage biotechs benefit from quickly developing a proof of concept to de-risk their asset for investors and to innovate more quickly afterward.
2022 Start-Up Stadium recognizes biotech innovators
“This year’s BIO Start-Up Stadium had record-setting participation from the number of start-up applicants, number of start-up’s pitching, number of judges, and sizes of audiences attending since the program launched in 2015,” said Bernard V. Fallon, BIO’s Managing Director of Industry Research, Investor Outreach, and Education.
As the Seed-Stage Finalist, OncoXome will receive “fast-track” admission to the Fall 2022 or Spring 2023 cohort of The Innovation Space’s Science Inc. virtual accelerator program and/or spotlight position in The Innovation Space’s monthly Spark Factory virtual event. Moreover, the company will also be considered for up to a $200k First Fund investment (which requires residency in The Innovation Space).
In addition, SiVEC Biotechnologies was named the Emerging Company Finalist, as Bio.News previously reported. SiVEC Biotechnologies will receive a “fast track” application to Illumina Accelerator with a guaranteed interview, a nomination into the final selection phase for a $10,000 sequencing grant, and a one-hour coaching session.
The 2022 Start-Up Stadium is sponsored by Avantor, the City of Phoenix, SVB, and Wilson Sonsini, and supported by Illumina Accelerator, the Innovation Space, SPARK at Stanford, and the California Life Sciences WIB-FAST program.
Applications for the 2023 Start-Up Stadium open in November at bio.org. The 2023 BIO International Convention will take place June 5-8 in Boston, Massachusetts.