Cancer treatment co Biocancell raises $6m

Aharon Schwartz

The company's bladder cancer product is slated for Phase III trials.

After years of stagnation, cancer drug company Biocancell Therapeutics Ltd. (TASE:BICL) is using several measures to try to get back on track. The company announced a $6 million financing round from US investors (apparently life sciences funds) for a third of its shares after the allocation.

The company plans to enlarge its private placement to $15-20 million, and to raise an additional $6 million through an issue of rights on the TASE, led by Clal Biotechnology Industries Ltd. (TASE: CBI), which holds a 82.6% stake in Biocancell. The private placement will take place at a 22% premium on the current Biocancell market cap of NIS 39 million. Following the announcement, the Biocancell share jumped 11%.

Biocancell also announced the recruitment of a US CEO: former Ariad senior VP and chief medical officer Frank Haluska. The company also intends to register for trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange and raise tens of millions of dollars there. The Nasdaq market for cancer treatment companies is very hot right now, but the market for offerings by biomed companies is quite closed. "We hope that by the time we reach the market, it will be more open," Biocancell chairman Dr. Aharon Schwartz said.

Biocancell has two drugs based on the common ideal of combining a diphtheria toxin with a component that becomes attached to a receptor in cancer cells significantly more frequently than it becomes attached to a receptor in healthy cells. Once the component attaches itself to a cancer cell, it releases the toxin, thereby killing the cell.

In the past, one of the company's challenges was how to deliver the product so that it would reach every cancer cell and treat it. The company is therefore focusing on a bladder cancer indication, because in this cancer the drug can be contained within the bladder, so that it reaches the affected cells, which are mostly on the sides of the bladder. The company has another product in earlier stages designed to be more successful at reaching the designated cells. This product was previously tested for indications of ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer. "We are not a big company, so for now, we're concentrating on the more advanced route," said Schwartz.

The product for bladder cancer has successfully passed a Phase IIb trial, and is now being prepared for a Phase III trials. Two Phase III trials for two different types of bladder cancer will actually be conducted, depending on the next financing round.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 1, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

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Aharon Schwartz
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