Biotech Startup Raises More Funds Than Expected Following Early OHSU Results

11/13/02    Portland, Ore.

A new compound significantly increases effectiveness of chemotherapy for cancer patients

Novacea, formerly D-Novo Therapeutics, has secured $36 million in second-round funding for a compound it anticipates will dramatically increase effectiveness of current chemotherapy. Interested investors actually offered the biotech more funds than originally requested. The promising compound, called DN-101, is currently in phase II/III clinical trials at about a dozen centers across the United States, including Oregon Health & Science University.

The founding of Novacea was based on oncologists' findings at OHSU showing high doses of calcitriol (an active form of vitamin D) in a new regimen significantly boosted chemotherapy effectiveness. In early trials, prostate cancer patients experienced a substantially higher response rate with calcitriol given in combination with chemotherapy than seen with chemotherapy alone.

"The success of these trials and the strength of Novacea bolster each other," said Tomasz Beer, M.D., study chairman and assistant professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) in the OHSU School of Medicine. "Novacea's contribution is critical to definitively confirming our results and to testing DN-101 in other cancers as well."