Austria-based OncoOne closed its Series A funding round with €13m raised. This financing will be used to officially launch the company and support the development of oncology treatments, which target oxidized macrophage migration inhibitory factor (oxMIF).

MIF is a cytokine that is known to encourage tumour growth. The oxMIF version is a novel, conformational isoform of the cytokine, which is not found in healthy tissue. This makes oxMIF a promising, highly specific target in a range of solid tumours. OncoOne is planning to focus on pancreatic, colorectal, lung and ovarian cancer initially, and then planning to move into other disease areas.

The funding round was led by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), the Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft (AWS), and two family offices. The FFG and AWS had previously invested in OncoOne back in August and November 2018.

OncoOne was founded in June 2018 by Randolf Kerschbaumer, Michael Thiele and Alexander Schinagl.

All three had previously worked at Baxalta, which was acquired by Shire in 2016; Shire has since been acquired by Japanese pharma giant Takeda. As part of the 2016 multi-billion dollar deal, Endpoints reported that Shire abandoned a drug targeting oxMIF, called imalumab, which Baxalta had been working on. Thiele, Kerschbaumer and Schinaglwere were all involved in the discovery of oxMIF as an isoform of MIF while at Baxalta.

Kerschbaumer, OncoOne’s CEO, commented: “As a target, oxMIF provides a very unique opportunity because in contrast to many other targets currently investigated in cancer therapy, it is generated by a post-translational mechanism and is characterized by a remarkable tumour specificity.

“OxMIF can be harnessed to attack specific types of tumours through different drug modalities.

“Our Company name represents our united ambition to use our combined drug development expertise to access the varied potential of oxMIF and the initial funding will enable us to explore this potential to provide innovative treatments for cancer indications with poor prognosis.”