January 16, 2018

Marlborough drugmaker to focus on lucrative cancer treatment

Brad Kane
Geert Cauwenbergh, president and CEO, RXi Pharmaceuticals Corp., Marlborough.

Marlborough drugmaker RXi Pharmaceuticals is shifting its business strategy to focus on the development of the most potentially lucrative of its three treatment areas -- the immuno-oncology program, the company announced Tuesday.

RXi is working on using its RNAi treatment to replace antibody treatments, a potentially $100-billion market. The company was largely focused on developing treatment for dermatology (skin care) and ophthalmology (eye care) until it acquired Cambridge drugmaker MirImmune, Inc. in 2017 to look at immuno-oncology to treat cancer.

In a statement on Tuesday, RXi President and CEO Geert Cauwenbergh cited positive clinical results from its dermatology study validating the safety and efficacy of the company's self-delivering RNAi compounds' ability to treat cancer in humans.

"These outcomes coupled with robust preclinical results in our immuno-oncology program, further affirm the company's focused development path," Cauwenbergh said.

The company plans to partner or out-license its dermatology and ophthalmology franchises. Proceeds from those transactions will be used to fund the company's renewed focus on immuno-oncology, the company said.

Both of those programs include preclinical and clinical-stage assets covered by a robust intellectual property estate, the company said.

By focusing on its immuno-oncology program, Cauwenbergh said the company could change the paradigm in cancer treatments.

He added feedback from leading cancer centers, business partners and investors act as an endorsement of the new strategy.

"It is our goal to develop novel immuno-oncology treatments to benefit patients as well as our long-term shareholders and business partners," he said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said RXi was looking to replace the antibiotic market. In actuality, the company is working to replace the antibody market.

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