- Oncternal Therapeutics and Tokalas, two San Diego-based biotechs, have agreed to merge and combine all assets, operations, and clinical development programs under Oncternal's name.
- The newly created company will focus on advancing two pipeline cancer candidates, cirmtuzumab and TK216. Cirmtuzumab is currently in phase 1 trials for treatment of relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) while TK216 is being readied for phase 1 testing against Ewing sarcoma.
- James Breitmeyer, a veteran oncologist who previously served as president of Bavarian Nordic, will head up the new company.
"Common regulatory and development strategies result in significant synergies for the combined company. Our highly experienced management team will lead Oncternal forward and rapidly advance our two products, cirmtuzumab and TK216, into additional clinical trials for some of the most devastating and underserved forms of cancer," said Breitmeyer in a statement on the merger.
They will have a long road ahead as both candidates remain in early-stage development. Cirmtuzumab was originally developed by Thomas Kipps at the Moores Cancer Center of UC San Diego and is in phase 1 testing for CLL. Oncternal is planning new studies in breast cancer and mantle cell lymphoma for later this year.
TK216, on the other hand, is a first-in-class small molecule drug in development for patients with Ewing sarcoma. It was developed at Georgetown University. Although TK216 is just moving into human testing for that indication, it will also be tested for glioblastoma and prostate cancer next year.