Oncohost’s $35M series C predicts expansion of Prophet study
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The short-term future is a little clearer for Israeli precision oncology startup Oncohost Ltd. now that it has closed a $35 million series C fundraising round. The new infusion more than doubled the previous amount raised, bringing total investment to more than $50 million.
The company plans to use the funds to expand its PROPHETIC trial of the company’s machine learning-based host response profiling platform, Prophet, to additional locations worldwide and new indications. In addition, the round will support the diagnostic solution’s rollout in the U.S., which is expected to begin in the next quarter. The phased introduction “will begin by launching the Prophet test at the medical and oncology centers already participating in our PROPHETIC clinical trials,” Oncohost CEO Ofer Sharon told BioWorld.
“This is Oncohost’s third and most significant investment round to date, demonstrating the company’s maturity, credibility and scalability,” said Sharon. “We are honored to be supported by leading local and global investment funds that understand and support our vision to shift the landscape of oncology to a truly personalized approach and want to be part of our journey in revolutionizing cancer care.”
The oversubscribed round was led by new investor Alive Israel Healthtech VC, with support from Israeli financial firm Leumi Partners, Israel’s largest pension fund Menora Mivtachim, Ourcrowd and other existing investors. In conjunction with the financing, Alive Co-founder and General Manager Ari Shamiss joined the Oncohost board.
“Oncohost provides significant value to both cancer patients and their clinicians, and it is an honor to have led this transformational funding round,” said Shamiss, “With promising and significant clinical results, Oncohost’s unique approach can create a brighter and better future for the world of precision oncology, maximizing the likelihood of selecting the correct therapy combinations and dramatically improving therapeutic results for cancer patients. We are confident that Oncohost is set to become a pivotal proteomics market leader in personalized oncology treatment.”
Personalized guide to therapy
Benjamina, Israel-based Oncohost’s platform provides disease navigation to patients and physicians by enabling early identification of responsiveness to cancer therapy, analysis of treatment resistance mechanisms and potential strategies to overcome that resistance. Using one blood test prior to treatment, the system performs proteomic analysis and artificial intelligence (AI)-based host response analysis for the individual patient.
Interim results from the PROPHETIC trial in non-small-cell lung cancer reported in January demonstrated high accuracy at three months, six months and one year, the company said. “These results are statistically and clinically significant, giving us great hope for the future of precision oncology. The value that this validation will provide, both to cancer patients and their clinicians, is insurmountable,” said Sharon. “With just one blood test pre-treatment, we will now be empowered with a level of knowledge that is currently non-existent. Understanding the response probability trajectory for a full twelve months before treatment initiation, combined with insights on resistance associated pathways and proteins, has the potential to allow physicians to make critical clinical decisions earlier, all based on personalized patient data.” Results will be published later this year.
Earlier results from a study of patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for NSCLC presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology Virtual Congress 2021 enabled researchers to identify eight proteins and two clinical parameters that reliably predicted patient response to the therapy. The response signature had a specificity of 0.81 and negative predictive value of 0.77.
Prophet employs high-throughput protein analysis technology, scanning approximately 7,000 proteins in a patient’s plasma using Boulder, Col.-based Somalogic Inc.’s Somascan platform, combined with bioinformatic and machine learning-based algorithms, to identify proteomic patterns that are predictive of patient outcomes. Prophet also provides information on potential new drugs as well as combinations that may overcome treatment resistance.
While non-small-cell lung cancer is the most advanced application of the platform, Oncohost is exploring Prophet’s predictive ability for several other types of cancer. Stage IV melanoma is in advanced stages of the clinical trial process and is about nine months from launch, Ofer told BioWorld. “Small cell lung cancer is also in the works. There is great unmet need for this smaller indication,” he added. “We will soon begin clinical trials for renal cell carcinoma and head and neck cancer.”