GtreeBNT Co., Ltd., has entered into an agreement with OMRF to acquire the rights to OKN-007, a new investigational drug for the treatment of glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer.
Under a new company, Oblato, Inc., GtreeBNT will assume exclusive rights to the compound, which was developed by OMRF researchers Rheal Towner, Ph.D., and Robert Floyd, Ph.D.
OKN-007 has been evaluated as a novel therapeutic that protects nerves and reduces both necrosis and glioblastoma cell proliferation by eliminating reactive oxygen species, a known cause of cancer. In studies at OMRF, the drug reduced tumor size and increased lifespan in animal models of glioblastoma. An estimated 12,000 Americans are diagnosed with glioblastoma each year, according to the American Brain Tumor Foundation.
OKN-007 has undergone phase I-B clinical testing at the University of Oklahoma’s Stephenson Cancer Center, where physicians assessed its safety in patients suffering from glioblastoma.
“There is currently no cure for glioblastoma, and the development of new treatments is a very important unmet need,” said GtreeBNT and Oblato’s President and Chief Executive Officer Won S. Yang, Ph.D. “Oblato will conduct glioblastoma clinical trials on patients in the U.S. and will work to develop this new drug worldwide. With our history of work in the orphan drug market, this new drug fits well into our portfolio and matches the goals of GtreeBNT.”
Oblato will initiate additional trials to study the efficacy and safety of this investigational drug in larger patient populations. At this time, OKN-007 is administered as an infusion. This agreement will provide the resources to expand the size of the patient cohort and to eventually develop an oral form of the drug.
Since 2014, GtreeBNT has been focusing on the development and commercialization of biopharmaceutical drugs, particularly first-in-class medications for ophthalmic indications, such as dry eye disease and the orphan ocular disease neurotrophic keratopathy. By acquiring the rights to OKN-007, GtreeBNT has expanded its interests to developing cancer treatments. Due to GtreeBNT’s highly experienced and qualified team, it is able to rapidly bring early clinical stage drugs to market.
“GtreeBNT’s focus on rare and orphan disease indications makes them an attractive partner to help us take the next steps in getting this drug to market,” said OMRF Vice President of Technology Ventures Manu Nair. “Their ultimate goal is to see OKN-007 benefit patients living with this terrible disease. The company’s interest in the project and its ability to work quickly makes them an excellent fit for us.”
Through execution of this agreement, it is expected that GtreeBNT will advance toward becoming a leading biopharmaceutical company that is able to consistently grow by securing worldwide exclusive rights to develop and commercialize new drugs to treat various diseases, including glioblastoma and ophthalmic indications.
“Right now, there is no effective treatment for glioblastoma,” said OMRF’s Nair. “Patients typically receive a prognosis of 12 to 18 months from their initial diagnosis. We hope this new partnership can change those numbers for the better.”