Ocean Biomedical enters first in-human clinical trial

Updated at 3:45 p.m.

PROVIDENCE – Ocean Biomedical, a biopharmaceutical company launched out of Brown University, is entering its first in-human clinical trial with Virion Therapeutics LLC, a Delaware-based company that is moving to Philadelphia. 

Ocean Biomedical announced Thursday it is helping expand Virion’s clinical-stage program and pipeline of VRON-0200, a treatment for patients with chronic hepatitis B, a disease that affects more than 300 million patients worldwide. 

The pipeline is built upon a novel class of immune-modulators, specifically, Virion’s proprietary genetically encoded checkpoint modifiers, which have demonstrated enhanced and broadened CD8+ T cells, which has resulted in unprecedented immune responses and clinical activity in a wide range of animal models of different diseases.

“We are pleased to be entering into this joint venture with Virion. Altering T cell activation to significantly improve immune responses, and subsequently treatment outcomes, is highly innovative and an exciting new technology with a wide array of potential uses for both cancer and chronic infectious diseases,” said Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, Ocean Biomedical’s executive chairman and co-founder.

Ocean Biomedical, which launched in 2019 and went public in 2022, also joined forces with Virion with the goal of finding cures for patients with cancer and other chronic infectious diseases. Currently, Ocean Biomedical is working on advancing potential immunotherapies for lung, brain and other cancers by targeting the chitinase 3-like-1 expression with mono- and bi-specific antibodies and has additional development programs in fibrosis and for the treatment, and prevention, of malaria. 

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“Ocean has an exciting pipeline of innovative treatments from world-class scientists and a unique business model that was attractive to us,” said Andrew Luber, CEO and co-founder of Virion. “Both companies have highly synergistic pipelines and complementary corporate structures that will benefit each other and should lead to exciting new treatments in the future. It is rare to find companies that complement one another so well and have common goals. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves together and bringing our novel therapeutics to patients worldwide!” 

(Update: Corrects number of people globally with hepatitis B to 300 million)