The Marcelino Botín Foundation and Banc Sabadell have led an investment round of 1.28 million euros in the biotech Oniria Therapeutics, a spin-off born from the oncology institute of the Vall d’Hebron hospital (VHIO), the University of Barcelona and the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA).
Oniria Therapeutics is investigating several molecules to eliminate persistent or dormant tumor cells, which elude conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments and later become activated and cause relapses and metastases.
The ‘spin-off’ of the UB and Vall d’Hebron
Esther Riambau, the company’s general director, explained that this is the first injection of capital received by the company, which was established at the end of 2021, and will allow progress in the preclinical phase of the research and choose from the various molecules under study the most promising to begin human trials. The company plans to finish this clinical phase at the end of 2025 and if the trials confirm its efficacy it could begin to market it in 2030, surely looking for pharmaceutical groups interested in licensing it to carry out the last phase of clinical trials and regulatory procedures.
Oniria, Riambau explained, has three full-time employees, and a team of researchers of the first order among its founders, which includes doctors Josep Tabernero, Héctor G. Palmer, and Isabel Puig, from VHIO, as well as Xavier Barril ( ICREA) and Carles Galdeano (UB).
These researchers have conducted preclinical studies with various drugs that activate an enzyme, called TET2, and have been shown to be effective in animals with colon cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, and melanoma in preventing tumors from reappearing after treatment.
The investment has been led by Mind the Gap, the Botín Foundation’s biotechnological entrepreneurship program, with the participation of BStartup, Banc Sabadell’s investment program in emerging companies. Five private investors or business angels , and other friends of the company founders. The company has also received 380,000 euros in the form of loans from public bodies, especially the Investigo program of AGAUR-Generalitat de Catalunya; from the Torres Quevedo program of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, and from Acció, the industrial agency of the Generalitat.