New entity will be called OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals and will have an oncology pipeline.

Sonus Pharmaceuticals and OncoGenex Technologies are merging to form OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals. The combined firm will have an oncology focus. Each product candidate in the new company’s pipeline reportedly has a distinct mechanism of action.

The lead candidate, OGX-011, is in five Phase II trials. Additionally, there are two compounds in Phase I and one that the firm says it will move into Phase I development within 18 months.

OGX-011, also known as custirsen sodium, inhibits the production of clusterin, a protein that is associated with treatment resistance in a number of solid tumors, the company explains. It thus has broad applicability in a number of cancers. The company will advance OGX-011 in the hormone-refractory prostate cancer setting.

OGX-427 is in a Phase I study for the treatment of solid tumors. The company expects that the single-agent aspect of this trial will be completed in the second half of this year, and Phase II development will begin in 2009. The other Phase I candidate, SN2310, is a novel prodrug of SN-38, which is an anticancer agent belonging to the class of topoisomerase I inhibitors.

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