A new cancer therapeutics firm, Scandion Oncology, has been established to develop a potential anticancer candidate and related platform acquired from Danish ion channel specialist Saniona. Scandion Oncology will be 51% owned by Saniona, but the new firm’s founders, management, and other shareholders are independent of Saniona. Potential options for financing Scandion are under consideration, Saniona said, and may include a private placement and public listing.

The program acquired by Scandion from Saniona comprises an early clinical candidate, SCO101, which  which has been evaluated in Phase I studies and appears to enhance the effects of chemotherapy through a novel mechanism of action. Saniona acquired SCO101 and a related platform of chemical analogs and know-how from NeuroSearch in 2012, but subsequently shelved plans to develop the assets in house after the failure of a clinical program in a different therapeutic indication. In 2015, Saniona granted a University of Copenhagen team rights to test the compounds, which led to the discovery that compounds with a certain mechanism of action could enhance chemotherapy.

“Scanion Oncology will be able to initiate Phase II clinical trials within a relatively short time frame and thereby provide proof of concept for the technology, which addresses one of the most important problems in modern oncology,” commented Scandion Oncology CEO, Kim Arvid Neilsen, M.D.

“By combining the invention with the knowledge of the Scandion Oncology Founders and the technology from Saniona, we can create a new interesting company to the benefit of cancer patients and Saniona's shareholders,” added Jørgen Drejer, Ph.D., CEO of Saniona.

Saniona is developing a preclinical and clinical pipeline of in-house and partnered ion channel-targeting drugs for central nervous system, autoimmune and metabolic diseases, and for pain therapy. The firm's most advanced clinical candidate, tesofensine is a triple monoamine reuptake inhibitor in late-stage clinical development for obesity, but with potential utility in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Last month, Medix, Saniona’s partner for tesofensine in Mexico and Argentina, received regulatory clearance to start a Phase III study with the drug in obese Mexican patients.

Tesomet, a fixed-dose combination of tesofensine and metoprolol, is in Phase II development as a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes and is also undergoing a Phase II study as a potential treatment for Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Saniona started the Phase IIa PWS trial in the Czech Republic and Hungary last month.

Clinical candidate NS2359 is a triple monoamine reuptake inhibitor in development for the potential treatment of cocaine addiction. Sanonia’s partner for NS2359, The Treatment Research Center (TRC), University of Pennsylvania, started a Phase IIa study in mid 2016.

Saniona’s preclinical pipeline includes in-house programs for treating neuropathic pain and inflammation and inflammatory bowel disease. A partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim is focused on the discovery of candidates for schizophrenia therapy. A partnership with Upsher-Smith Laboratories’ U.K.-based Proximagen subsidiary is developing small-molecule therapeutics for neurological disorders.

In February last year, Saniona won a research grant of up to $590,700 from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to develop selective nicotine receptor modulators for the potential treatment of Parkinson’s disease. The firm earned a $119,487 milestone payment from the Foundation last month.

Saniona’s spinout company Ataxion, which was established in 2013 to develop the firm’s preclinical ataxia therapeutic program, merged with Luc Therapeutics in March. Saniona holds a 7.1% stake in the merged entity.

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