A Kansas City-area animal health company is ramping up its efforts to take its cancer immunotherapy treatment to market.
Elias Animal Health, a subsidiary of Olathe-based TVAX Biomedical Inc., applied for a conditional licensure of its treatment for dogs with bone cancer through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Veterinary Biologics.
Elias recently completed preliminary studies of its osteosarcoma treatment and will enroll for a pivotal study as the next step. On Thursday, the company will release the preliminary studies’ results, which were promising enough for the company to start the licensing process.
“Based on the positive data we’re seeing in the osteosarcoma study, we’ve started the licensing process, and we look forward to achieving the next milestone,” Elias CEO Tammie Wahaus said. “We’re very confident that it’s time to move forward.”
Elias announced Wednesday that it plans to pursue a $4 million financing round to support commercialization, expansion of its clinical trials and future relocation into a larger manufacturing facility. Although osteosarcoma is one of the five most prevalent cancers in dogs, Wahaus said the company also had begun enrolling pilot studies for dogs with bladder cancer and spleen cancer (hemangiosarcoma).
“Unfortunately for canines, there just aren’t good treatment options in virtually all canine cancer types,” Wahaus said. “Our technology is a platform technology, so we will be extending clinical trials to include other cancer types as well.”
Elias’ treatment is based on a technology developed by TVAX, in which patients are vaccinated against their own cancer. The company then harvests some of the patient’s T-cells, a type of white blood cell, which are developed into a treatment that can recognize and attack the cancer.
Both Elias and TVAX call the former Kansas Bioscience Authority’s accelerator in Olathe home. But with aspirations of commercializing the treatment, Wahaus said they would begin the process of evaluating a location that could host their offices and manufacturing.
“The accelerator has been great for the startup phase. Longer term, we know we’re going to need more space,” she said.
The company doesn’t have a set time frame or location in mind yet, but Wahaus said it plans to keep Elias in the KC Animal Health Corridor.
Infusion of talent
Elias also began building out its staff with a new COO and three board members.
“We’ve put together a first-class team,” Wahaus said. “I’m extremely excited to have all of them on board.”
The company brought on Steve Sewell as COO at the beginning of June. Sewell previously worked with Mars Petcare for 10 years, most recently as market director of Mars Horsecare U.S. Sewell will be tasked with leading commercialization efforts, building relationships with veterinary clinics and helping pursue the company’s next round of financing.
The company also brought on Dr. H. Lee Herron to its scientific advisory board; he is director of the Georgia Research Alliance’s venture development program. It also hired two well-known local names, Julia Stephanus and Kip Wiggins, to its board.
Stephanus recently was chief commercial officer of Aratana Therapeutics Inc. She also founded Summit VetPharm LLC, which was acquired by Ceva Animal Health.
Wiggins recently retired as a partner at Stinson Leonard Street LLP, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity.
“One of the advantages of being in the animal health corridor is that’s where these experts are,” Wahaus said. “That’s also the advantage of having an exciting technology. People are passionate about what we’re doing.”
First appeared on June 14, 2018 in the Kansas City Business Journal: https://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2018/06/14/olathe-biotech-elias-animal-health-dog- cancer.html