The Eurostars program supports the Dutch start-up Oncodrone with fresh money to bring its metastasis-blocking drug towards clinical trials.

Even with a promising technology, it’s not easy to succeed in the biotech field. The Eurostars program helps small companies through the tough starting phase. This year, the 2013 founded biotech start-up Oncodrone gets a 2.5 million grant that will allow it to bring its one and only drug OCD155 through pre-clinical development.

oncodrone

The drug addresses the most terrifying feature of cancer: the ability to spread throughout the body. To do this, it inhibits a process called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). As the name says, epithelial cells gain characteristics from mesenchymal cells during this procedure, such as high mobility. This property is crucial for cancer cells to migrate.

oncodrone

Epithelial cells start losing attachment during the EMT process © Christina Scheel/Whitehead Institute.

OCD155 inhibits the down-regulation of the adhesion molecule E-cadherin in the process and thus keeps the cancer cell in its place. The intervention of the drug could be beneficial in the treatment of several types of epithelial cancers, including prostate-, breast-, bladder-, pancreas- and lung cancer. Until now, its efficacy has been proven in two mouse models of cancer.

Eurostars also helped other startups this year, namely Merus and Selexis, which aim at developing a treatment against colorectal cancer. All this European money ultimately helps these promising start-ups to move to the next level.

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