iOnctura Project Evaluating Novel PI3Kδ-inhibitor IOA-244 in Lymphoma to be Co-funded by Innosuisse

27 July 2021


  • Project to investigate novel combination therapies in lymphoma with IOA-244
  • IOA-244 Phase 1b clinical development in solid tumors initiated

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 27, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — iOnctura SA, a clinical stage oncology company targeting core resistance and relapse mechanisms at the tumor-stroma-immune interface, announces the support of Innosuisse in a 2-year innovation project to explore the potential of iOnctura’s lead molecule, the PI3Kδ-inhibitor IOA-244, in the treatment of lymphoma. The Innosuisse grant of 596’828 CHF (approximately $652,000) will fund fifty percent of the project’s costs, covering the research carried out by Professor Francesco Bertoni of the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR) in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

The research project, scheduled to start in August 2021, will run alongside iOnctura’s expanding clinical program for IOA-244, focussed on the treatment of solid tumors (NCT04328844). Amongst other aspects, the new project will explore patient stratification biomarkers, combination interventions to increase treatment response rates in lymphoma and methods for minimizing potential resistance pathways.

“I am delighted iOnctura will be able to draw on the experience of Francesco Bertoni and his group to better understand the mechanisms of resistance in lymphoma. We want to understand precisely how to position IOA-244 in the treatment landscape of lymphoma in parallel to our clinical program in solid tumors.” said Catherine Pickering, CEO of iOnctura. “In our ongoing solid tumor program with IOA-244 we are seeing clinical safety and activity behaviors consistently mirroring those we anticipated from our preclinical evaluations.”

IOA-244 is highly selective for the PI3Kδ isoform and has a novel mechanism of target inhibition, binding the kinase without competing for ATP. This suite of properties contributes to IOA-244’s emerging unprecedented clinical profile. While first-generation PI3Kδ-inhibitors are being prescribed for the treatment of lymphoma, their use has been associated with compound-related toxicities, limiting their application as monotherapy and preventing their combination with standard therapies. Furthermore, resistance mechanisms associated with PI3kδ inhibitors remains an important field of research to address additional unmet medical need.

Professor Bertoni, the research partner at the IOR, commented, “Targeting PI3Kδ holds great promise for the treatment of patients with lymphoma. Unfortunately, previous drugs in this class have been hampered by safety issues and resistance. I am excited to be working on IOA-244, a novel PI3Kδ inhibitor, which not only has a unique binding mode, but based on initial clinical data also appears to be safe and combinable with other drugs – meaning we could translate our findings into meaningful treatment regimens for patients.”

Project funding comes from Innosuisse, the Swiss national Innovation Agency which has a remit to promote science-based innovation to increase the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in Switzerland.

Project title: “Evaluation of non-ATP competitive PI3Kδ inhibition with IOA-244 in the treatment of lymphoma”.

Catherine Pickering
Chief Executive Officer
T: +41 79 952 72 52

Press Relations
Jeremy Nieckowski
LifeSci Advisors
T: +41 79 699 97 27

iOnctura SA is a clinical stage oncology company targeting core resistance and relapse mechanisms at the tumor-stroma-immune interface. iOnctura’s best-in-class drug development programs combine immune-mediated and direct anti-tumor activity to deliver molecules with superior clinical efficacy and safety in oncology. Its lead program, IOA-244, is the only semi-allosteric PI3Kdelta specific, orally dosed, small molecule inhibitor that is being developed in solid and hematological tumors to address tumor and stroma induced immune suppression. IOA-244 is currently in Phase 1b studies for solid and hematological tumors. iOnctura’s second program, IOA-289, is an oral small molecule that inhibits the cross-talk between the tumor and its stroma and is in a Phase 1 clinical study. iOnctura is backed by blue chip investors including M Ventures, Inkef Capital, VI Partners, Schroders Capital, and 3B Future Health Fund. For more information, please visit

IOA-244 is a PI3Kdelta specific, orally dosed, small molecule inhibitor that overcomes tumor and stroma induced immune suppression. Its unique chemistry, semi allosteric binding mode and mechanism of action contribute to its unprecedented clinical profile. IOA-244 is currently in the dose expansion phase of the DIONE 01 trial, a two-part, first-in-human dose study evaluating IOA-244 in solid tumors and hematological malignancies and as a combination partner for conventional and immune-therapies.

Professor Francesco Bertoni is Vice-director of the Institute of Oncology Research in Bellinzona, Switzerland, and adjunct professor at the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, USI. His research group specializes in the development of new anti-lymphoma compounds and lymphoma genomics. He has previously worked with PI3K inhibitors and other compounds targeting the same pathways (BTK and mTOR), with recent projects focusing both on combination therapies that involve PI3K and on mechanisms of resistance to combination therapies in lymphoma. He is an author of over 200 original peer-reviewed papers in the field, Editor-in-Chief of Hematological Oncology, and President of the Local Organizing Committee of the world-renowned International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma (ICML).

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