“A Look at OncoMed Pharmaceuticals,” by Ellen Scharaga

OncoMed Pharmaceuticals is a development-stage biopharmaceuticals company that focuses on developing monoclonal antibody therapeutics that target cancer stem cells (CSC). CSC are also known as tumor-initiating cells and have the power to divide, develop new CSC, and change into tumor cells. OncoMed Pharmaceuticals is concerned with developing medication that not only targets bulk tumor cells, like most existing cancer medications, but also prevents CSC from self-renewal and adding to the bulk tumor cells. In doing so, the company uses proprietary technologies and techniques to identify, isolate, and evaluate CSC and to identify pathways and other targets necessary in the self-renewal process. Through this research, the company seeks to develop antibodies and other therapeutics that will inhibit the growth and spread of CSC.

Currently OncoMed Pharmaceuticals has three anti-CSC products in clinical development and filed a new drug application in 2012 to begin work on the development of a fourth product. Since beginning funding efforts in August 2004, the company has secured approximately $300 million.

About the Author: A resident of Melville, NY, Ellen Scharaga is the Senior Vice President at OncoMed Pharmaceuticals in Great Neck, New York.