Ona Therapeutics is a biotech company, spin-off of ICREA and IRB, specialized in the discovery and development of therapeutic biologics targeting tumor metastatic-initiating cells and lipid metabolism. It was co-funded in February 2019 by ICREA researcher Salvador Aznar Benitah and Valerie Vanhooren (CEO). It is currently based at the Parc Cientific de Barcelona (PCB) and IRB Barcelona. ONA Therapeutics has been launched through an investment by Asabys Partners, who is a venture capital firm from Barcelona investing across the board in human healthcare, specialising in health-tech and biopharma industries.
Although this is by no means expected from ICREA researchers, it so happens that sometimes they hit on something that shows promise of becoming a powerful new technology, but it seems impossible to develop that further without significant investment of time and money. In these cases, many choose to explore the option of creating a spin-off company dedicated to the concept.
List of spin off companies
Supported by the Institut de Recerca contra la Leucèmia Josep Carreras and ICREA.view details
Entrepreneur: ICREA Research Professor Pablo Menéndez
Born in June 2020.
OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI) is a spin-off company from The Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute. The aim of OCI is to develop new immuno-oncological therapeutic tools with various preclinical candidates, based on CAR–T technology for different tumours, such as cortical T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (coT-ALL), a rare subtype of leukaemia that mainly affects children, and which has a poor prognosis.
The spin-off was funded initially through a round of seed capital, amounting to €3,050,000, provided by Invivo Ventures, the Ministry of Industry, through CDTI-Innvierte, and the Josep Carreras Foundation, and it clearly makes the case for bringing the research carried out by Dr. Pablo Menéndez's group closer to patients. Dr. Mendez is an ICREA research professor and the scientific director at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute's Hospital Clínic-UB Campus.
Dr. Menéndez's group was the first in the world to develop and validate a CD1a specific CAR-T for coT-ALL. The study, published in the journal Blood, has so far been conducted with animal models using both cell lines and primary blasts derived from patients with coT-ALL. Preliminary results show that these CAR-T cells persist in vivo over the long term and retain their anti-leukaemia activity.
The creation of this spin-off marks a further step towards developing adoptive cell immunotherapy, such as CAR–T cell therapy.
Dr. Menéndez, founder of OCI and world renowned for his work in the field of childhood leukaemia, directs the Josep Carreras Institute's stem cell biology, leukaemia development and immunotherapy group. More than 180 of his studies have been published by the world's most prestigious scientific journals and, outstanding in his wide-ranging professional career is having been awarded the triennial ED Thomas Postdoctoral Fellowship grant, awarded by the Josep Carreras Foundation in 2006, as well as three grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC), the most important scientific funding organisation in Europe.
Oniria Therapeutics SL
Supported by UB, VHIR and ICREAview details
Entrepreneur: ICREA Research Professor Xavier Barril
Born in December 2021
Our flagship product, ONR-001, is an oral small molecule, first-in-class, that allosterically activates TET2, a master epigenetic enzyme, causing tumor cells to enter a dormant state and even die. ONR-001 is oncology indication agnostic and can be successfully used at all stages of the disease, from naïve primary tumors to recurrent resistant and metastatic cancer, thus “making a world of difference“.
Supported by the Institut Català d'Investigació Química (ICIQ) and ICREA.view details
Entrepreneur: ICREA Research Professor José Ramón Galán-Mascarós.
Born in December 2017.
Orchestra Scientific SL is born as a start-up company with the aim to exploit the commercial potential of recent patents and know-how developed by ICREA Prof. JR Galán-Mascarós at ICIQ. Our team is designing new economic solutions for the characterisation and purification of materials with special interest in renewable energies and CO2 mitigation and valorisation.