Biotechnology company Ocean Biomedical, Inc. (NASDAQ: OCEA) entered into a joint venture with Virion Therapeutics, LLC, to expedite and expand the latter’s clinical-stage program and pipeline, with the goal of finding cures for patients with cancer and chronic infectious diseases. Virion Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel T cell-based immunotherapies.
Ocean’s executive chairman and co-founder Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria said, “We are pleased to be entering into this joint venture with Virion. Altering T cell activation to significantly improve immune responses, and subsequently treatment outcomes, is highly innovative and an exciting new technology with a wide array of potential uses for both cancer and chronic infectious diseases.”
Virion is currently enrolling a multi-national, first-in-humans study, called “VRON-0200,” for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, with the goal of providing a functional cure for millions of patients affected with the disease worldwide. In addition, Virion has IND-enabling activities for its oncology program underway.
Proprietary Checkpoint Modifiers
The pipeline is built upon a novel class of immune-modulators, specifically, Virion’s proprietary genetically encoded checkpoint modifiers (CPMs). They have demonstrated enhanced and broadened CD8+ T cells, which has resulted in unprecedented immune responses and clinical activity in a wide range of animal models of different diseases.
“We’ve been impressed with Virion’s clinical development expertise and their ability to advance the lead VRON-0200 Chronic HBV program into clinical trials and are looking forward to seeing the first clinical data from this program within the next few months. We are also excited to help support their oncology program, which is targeted for IND submission in the next 9 months. We believe there is great synergy between the companies and that the team and corporate infrastructure at Ocean can help Virion accelerate their development programs, and Virion can assist Ocean in advancing our programs into the clinic – with our joint goal of bringing new treatment options to patients affected by cancer and infectious diseases,” added Dr. Chirinjeev.
Ocean Biomedical is advancing potential immunotherapies for lung, brain, and other cancers by targeting chitinase 3-like-1 expression (CHi3L1) with mono- and bi-specific antibodies and has additional development programs in fibrosis and for the treatment, and prevention, of malaria.
“Ocean has an exciting pipeline of innovative treatments from world-class scientists and a unique business model that was attractive to us. Both companies have highly synergistic pipelines and complementary corporate structures that will benefit each other and should lead to exciting new treatments in the future. It is rare to find companies that complement one another so well and have common goals. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves together and bringing our novel therapeutics to patients worldwide!” commented Dr. Andrew Luber, CEO and co-founder of Virion.