On Target Laboratories Inc., a privately held biotechnology company that is developing tumor-targeted fluorescent dyes to improve cancer surgery, has secured $40 million in a combination of equity and convertible debt financing.
The funding round was led by new investor Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JJDC), with participation from existing investors. On Target Laboratories, based in the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette, Indiana, plans to use the funding to further advance the development of its lead imaging compound, OTL38, for use in detecting multiple cancers, including ovarian and lung, and also development of a second imaging compound for additional cancers. These compounds, armed with a bright fluorescent dye, target and illuminate cancer cells during surgery, leaving normal healthy cells dark.
“This funding will allow us to continue work aimed at benefiting the lives of ovarian and lung cancer patients worldwide by enabling surgeons to see and remove cancer lesions that they otherwise would have missed if not for this fluorescent imaging technology,” said Martin Low, CEO of On Target Laboratories. “We are thrilled to have JJDC as our investment partner.”
OTL38, which will shortly be entered into a Phase 3 clinical trial, is given to patients intravenously before surgery. In ovarian cancer surgery studies, OTL38 is being evaluated for its ability to help surgeons locate and remove hard-to-find cancerous lesions that are often widespread. Similarly, in clinical trials of OTL38 in lung cancer surgery, On Target Laboratories is evaluating whether OTL38 allows surgeons to better locate smaller nodules, enabling them to spare healthy tissue and appropriately stage the patient for further treatment.
“Our goal is to significantly improve the treatment of cancer patients undergoing surgery, by helping the surgeon identify and resect malignant lesions that are too small or buried to be seen with the naked eye,” said Philip S. Low, Ph.D., Presidential Scholar in Drug Discovery and Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University. Low pioneered the technology at Purdue and is a co-founder of On Target Laboratories.
Wedbush PacGrow served as exclusive strategic adviser and placement agent to On Target Laboratories in connection with the financing.