French nanomedicine firm seeks cash, U.S. partner against cancer

Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:25pm EST

* Nanobiotix uses nanoparticles to enhance impact of x-rays

* Aims to bring technology to EU market in 2016

* Seeks partner in USA to develop drug there too

* Needs to raise cash before September to keep going

By Natalie Huet

PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - French nanomedicine firm Nanobiotix is searching for a partner in the United States and plans to raise fresh capital this year to bring to market its cancer-killing technology, its chief executive said on Friday.

The Paris-listed company needs the support and cash to continue developing its NanoXray product, which it says increases the precision and impact of radiotherapy to better fight cancer.

It hopes to sell this in Europe in two years' time.

"Finding a partner in the United States has become a priority for us," CEO Laurent Levy told Reuters in an interview, adding that Nanobiotix had so far been in talks with about 20 pharmaceutical companies there.

A majority of cancer patients have to undergo radiotherapy at some stage of their illness, but many cannot be given the dose of x-rays needed to destroy their tumours because it would cause too much collateral damage to healthy cells.

Nanobiotix proposes a single, non-toxic injection of nanoparticles of hafnium oxide into tumours before radiotherapy. The nanoparticles accumulate within the tumour and increase the effect of radiation on cancer cells nine-fold while maintaining a standard dose on nearby healthy tissues.

"All you have to do is add the product and it makes radiotherapy more efficient. We wanted it to easily fit into existing medical practices," said Levy, who hopes hospitals and radiotherapists will embrace its simplicity.

SHARES RISE AND FALL

Nanobiotix thinks this technology could help about 2 million patients worldwide better fight cancer and open a market worth close to 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion).

The value of Nanobiotix shares tripled this week after the company said encouraging trials and feedback from independent experts meant it now expected to bring its technology to market in Europe in 2016, one year earlier than initially planned.

The shares shed 30 percent on Friday on news of the upcoming capital hike. They closed at 18 euros, giving the company a market capitalisation of about 193 million euros.

Nanobiotix raised 14.2 million euros when it was listed at 6 euros in October 2012. Levy declined to say how much it hoped to raise this time around, or when that might be, but said existing funds enabled it to function until next September.

For now, Nanobiotix is actively seeking to partner with a "medium-sized pharmaceutical company" in the United States to develop and ultimately license its products there.

The company has said NanoXray has successfully been tested in patients with soft tissue sarcoma - a rare type of cancer that affects soft tissues such as fat, muscle or nerves - and is now being tested in patients with head and neck cancers.

Nanobiotix also hopes to be able to register the product for liver cancer.

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