May 17, 2018

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Grid Therapeutics is creating the first human-derived antibody


[Originally posted by NCBiz— May 4, 2018]

DURHAM, N.C. — Grid Therapeutics Inc., an emerging biotechnology company, has the exclusive rights to a novel antibody for the treatment of lung cancer with application in multiple cancer types.

The initial discovery was made by Edward Patz Jr. in his laboratory at Duke University Medical Center.

This antibody discovered in cancer patients had no adverse effects in testing and has broad therapeutic applications in oncology because the same protective mechanism is used by many solid tumors.

Scott Lyman, the company’s chief business officer, says, “If you know oncology space then you know there are a lot of checkpoint inhibitors. We are formulating the first human derived antibody. We want to create something that is truly innovative.”

Lyman thinks the idea of a safe and well-tolerated cancer medicine is attractive and says the company will hopefully be developing this medicine for any patient with a solid tumor.

Research and development

In order to generate sufficient quantities of the antibody, an approach was used by taking the peripheral blood from patients and affinity selecting specific antibody–producing B cells.

Once the cells are isolated, the individual peripheral B cells were sequenced and immunoglobulin genes expressed. High affinity recombinant human monoclonal antibodies were then produced.

The antibody then binds a conformationally distinct epitope within a specific crucial functional domain on complement fact H protein bound to tumor cells.

The antibodies main mechanism of action is primarily to complement dependent cytotoxicity, which triggers tumor cell death and modulates the adaptive immune response.

This human derived antibody is currently being manufactured for a phase 1 clinical trial in advanced stage cancer patients.

A body’s normal cells are protected from the host immune system by multiple different mechanisms; tumor cells can apply these same protective strategies.

The Grid Therapeutics antibody recognizes that and inactivates one of the essential immune protective proteins that reside on the cell surface. Its primary role is to inhibit complement activation.

It then targets a specific conformationally found on tumor cells and allows the immune system to kill the tumor cells by perforating the cell membrane.

The modulation of the immune system (pictured above)  is key to the Grid Therapeutics antibody effect and allow the adaptive response to recognize tumor cells wherever they occur in the body.

The Durham-based company believes the result is a long-lasting durable anti-tumor response.

Catalent collaboration

Catalent Pharma Solutions announced this past October that it has signed a multi-year agreement with Grid Therapeutics for the development and manufacture of Grid’s candidate for the treatment of solid tumors.

Catalent is a provider of advanced delivery technologies and development solutions for drugs, biologics, and consumer health products.

Under the agreement, Catalent Biologics will employ its proprietary cell line technology to develop cell lines and manufacture antibodies with a view to optimizing the process for bulk drug production.

“Grid therapeutics is excited to partner with Catalent to develop this novel, human-derived antibody for the treatment of cancer. We feel Catalent Biologics is well positioned to bring this novel antibody to the clinic,” said Patz, CEO of Grid Therapeutics.

The project will be undertaken at Catalent’s state of the art Madison, Wisconsin, bio manufacturing facility.

Investors

In April, the Grid Therapeutics announced the closing of its Series B financing, raising $4.5 million.

Grid stated it planned to use the proceeds from the financing to accelerate and expand the development of Grid’s lead therapeutic candidate for the treatment of solid tumors and to prepare for clinical trials in cancer patients scheduled to commence in early 2019.

The Grid B’s financing was led by Milestone Holdings, a private, California based investment company. It has  over 65 years of experience with flexibility to invest in a wide variety of assets classes across the globe.

“Grid Therapeutics is very excited to welcome our new investors, all of whom bring a rich history of innovation and thought leadership,” said Patz. “With this new round of capital, we are well positioned to accelerate the development and advancement of our novel antibody into the clinic.”

In August of last year, Grid Therapeutics announced the exclusive license agreement with Duke University to develop the first human derived antibody as a targeted immunotherapy for cancer.

Under the agreement, Grid has kept the exclusive rights to all intellectual property, including relevant patents, related to complement factor H antibodies as a cancer therapy.

As part of the agreement, Duke University has become a shareholder in Grid Therapeutics.

Duke University Licensing and Ventures is the venture arm of Duke University, with a mission to invest in exciting and revolutionary technology introduced by entrepreneurs with an affiliation to Duke.

Other investors include Longview International Ltd., a Singapore-based venture company with an investment approach that focuses on strategic capitalization, business development support, and helping driving technological innovation.

Woodbourne Capital Management International and Paul Funk with Funk Software are investors in Grid Therapeutics as well.

Growth

“If we can take the money we have raised thus far and get through our initial study, that study’s data will then allow us to raise more money,” Lyman said

Lyman aded, “The company needs to receive the initial data in order to decide if we need to form a partnership or grow the team.”

Lyman brings Grid Therapeutics nearly 20 years of program management, finance, corporate strategy, and business development expertise to his role at Grid.

Prior to joining Grid, Lyman held positions at Amgen, Valeant, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals and Becton Dickson.