Background to Oxcia and Oxcia’s projects
Oxcia’s assets originatefrom more than 15 years of research at Karolinska Institute at Professor Thomas Helleday laboratory. The Helleday laboratory consists of a translational research group, performing state-of-the art science. Professor Helleday (co-founder, board member and chairman of the scientific advisory board) is one of the key opinion leaders within DDR research and invented the synthetic lethality concept and the use of PARP inhibitors in BRCA defected cancers. His innovation resulted in a new class of cancer therapy, DDR inhibitors, developed at Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Glaxo (GSK), Clovis oncology and many more companies. Today, PARP inhibitors are sold for over 3 billion dollars per year and estimated to reach 6 billion USD 2028 (Research & Markets, June 2022).
After the first BRCA-PARP DDR synthetic lethal innovation, Professor Helleday started to search for other potential targets within DDR field. In a so-called mismatch-repair screen, MTH1 was identified as an interesting anti-cancer target and a research program on this enzyme was initiated. MTH1 is an enzyme known to sanitize oxidized DNA building blocks, hindering oxidative DNA damage. Since MTH1 was validated as an interesting novel anti-cancer target (Gad et al., Nature 2014), proteins involved in downstream/ surrounding pathways were further scrutinized as additional potential novel targets for treatments. One of these were the enzyme OGG1. OGG1 was known to cleave out the oxidized DNA building block, 8-oxoguanine, from DNA to repair the oxidized DNA damage. The group showed that OGG1 was an interesting target for inflammatory related disease (Visnes et al., Science 2018).
Oxcia was founded in 2013
In 2013, Oxcia AB (publ) was founded to assist the research group and Thomas Helleday Foundation for Medical Research (THF) with business strategy, development, and commercialization of the academic projects. In Sweden, researchers employed at universities owns their innovations and are therefore free to commercialize their ideas as they wish.
Oxcia’s strengths are based on profound understanding of DDR signaling and oxidative stress in combination with extensive experience of drug development, commercialization, and business. Members of Oxcia have participated and led the work with OXC-101 and OXC-201 from early ideas. Building on this competence, Oxcia has continued to develop the mitotic MTH1 inhibitor OXC-101 into clinical phase and the OGG1 inhibitor, OXC-201 into preclinical phase. Oxcia has received several prestigious grants, alone and in collaboration with Prof. Helleday’s research group at Karolinska Institute, acknowledging the front-line innovative science, the therapeutic potentials, the excellence of the team and the business model.
Professor Thomas Helleday (co-founder of Oxcia) and his team were first to demonstrate the DDR concept for cancer treatment, more specifically killing tumour suppressor BReast CAncer (BRCA) mutated cancers using PARP inhibitors. These PARP inhibitors represent a new class of treatments already approved for use in mutated ovarian, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers and are likely to gain approval in further indications. PARP inhibitors are currently selling at about $2 billion per annum and a peak sale of $8.8 billion in 2027 is expected. The DDR area is a exciting new R&D area that has attracted major pharma, e.g. Pfizer and AstraZeneca, as well as smaller specialist companies. Oxcia is at the forefront in exploiting DDR mechanisms and its drug OXC-101 has first-in class potential.