Our pipeline focuses on novel strategies that leverage the power of the immune system, with a focus on innate immunity. By deepening our understanding of this area of the immune system and building on decades of progress in immuno-oncology research, we are striving to unlock the potential of new classes of immunotherapies.
The innate immune system serves as the body’s first defense mechanism against disease. It has the power to orchestrate a broad arsenal of cell types and mechanisms that may help to overcome the attempts of cancer cells to evade immune recognition.
In collaboration with a network of world-class partners, we are exploring opportunities to harness untapped mechanisms of the innate immune system with significant therapeutic potential.
Our “cold-to-hot” portfolio is comprised of platforms that aim to transform what is known as a “cold,” or poor, immune response at the tumor interface to one that is “hot,” or fully ignited. A cold tumor is one that the body’s immune system is unable to attack – the cancer cells are keeping the immune system at bay. Through novel therapeutic approaches directed at immune cells, our scientists and partners are working to overcome this immune suppression to shift the tumor microenvironment so that it is susceptible to infiltration and attack by immune cells. We are exploring new types of immunotherapies that have the potential to convert "cold" tumors into "hot" tumors, both alone and in combination with other immunotherapies. Our programs focused on turning "cold" tumors "hot" include:
SUMOylation Inhibition: SUMOylation is a post-translational process that can regulate immune activation through proteins known as interferons. SUMOylation inhibition can reactivate interferon signaling that is deficient in a “cold” tumor setting, and potentially re-engage the immune system to fight against cancer.
STING Programs: STING (selective agonist of STimulator of INterferon Genes) modulation and targeted delivery of STING agonists can influence key interferon signaling pathways, with the potential to drive an immune mediated anti-tumor response via multiple innate and adaptive immune mechanisms. In addition, STING agonists have the potential to enhance these anti-tumor effects by relieving immunosuppressive elements in the tumor microenvironment.
Redirected Immunity Approaches
Our redirected immunity programs mobilize immune cells to carry out broad attacks against tumor cells. These programs build upon earlier generations of cancer therapies in these classes and aim to address solid tumors in addition to hematologic malignancies. Our redirected immunity programs include:
Cell Therapy Programs: Cell therapy approaches in oncology involve treating a patient with immune cells that have been optimized to target cancerous tumor cells. We are focused on developing allogeneic cell therapies, which can be derived from a single source and serve as a treatment for many patients via platforms that leverage innate immune cells – including a natural killer cell platform (NK), a γδT (gamma delta T) cell platform and a universal innate immune cell-based induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform. This type of treatment has the potential to be delivered off-the-shelf for patients at the time they need therapy and improve upon several aspects of existing cell therapies.
Cell Engager Programs: Immune cell engagers are bispecific molecules engineered to specifically activate immune system attack at the surface of a tumor. With our COBRA™ (COnditional Bispecific Redirected Activation) platform, we are developing T cell engagers engineered to take advantage of the tumor’s unique microenvironment to drive T cell activation, triggering T cell-mediated killing only at the site of the cancerous tumor.