January 6, 2021
Myeloid Therapeutics, Inc., a company harnessing and reprogramming myeloid cells for treating cancers, launched today with over $50 million in financing to initiate multiple clinical trials in 2021. The Company combines advanced gene and cell engineering capabilities with substantial biologics knowledge to elucidate and redirect the power of myeloid cells to treat cancers, particularly solid tumors and those that are poorly served by existing therapies. Myeloid has advanced its lead development candidates through preclinical studies, implemented its manufacturing platform and plans to dose patients in the first half of this year.
The Company's scientific founders include Ronald Vale, Ph.D., a world-renowned biochemist and cell biologist, and executive director of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Janelia Research campus; and hematologist, oncologist and Pulitzer-Prize winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., D.Phil. Newpath Partners led the financing round with participation from 8VC, Hatteras Venture Partners and Alexandria Venture Investments.
With this funding, Myeloid will initiate clinical trials for the Company's programs, which target T cell lymphoma, glioblastoma and other solid tumors. The team will also continue to design and advance a broad pipeline of targeted myeloid cell therapies, including primed myeloid cells, myeloid multi-specific engagers and other development candidates created with Myeloid's novel mRNA delivery technologies. The Company expects to enter the clinic with its two lead programs in glioblastoma and T cell lymphoma in 2021.
"I believe Myeloid is best positioned to leverage the unique power of myeloid cells to help patients fighting cancers that until now, have been very difficult to treat," said Dr. Mukherjee. "Despite the promise of current cell therapies, many challenges remain when it comes to targeting specific types of cancers, including solid tumors, and in efficiently manufacturing treatments. I'm thrilled to help develop Myeloid's transformative treatment modality, which has the potential to overcome many of these challenges."
"Myeloid cells play a critical role in orchestrating the body's immune responses, including by directly killing cells, bacteria and viruses through a number of disease-fighting mechanisms," said Michael Dee Gunn, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Duke University, and a pioneer in the research of molecular mechanisms of innate immunity and inflammation and a member of Myeloid's Scientific Advisory Board. "This novel class of cell therapies has strong potential to benefit patients with the highest unmet medical needs."
ATAKTM Cell Platform
The Company's ATAK platform was inspired by Drs. Vale and Mukherjee, who envisioned the disease-fighting power of myeloid cells – versatile cells with effector functions capable of targeting and eliminating cancerous cells, along with other harmful cells in the body. Within the oncolytic setting, the ATAK platform is being applied to harness the innate abilities of myeloid cells, to specifically recognize and engulf cancer cells, to produce anti-tumor agents, promote anti-tumor adaptive immunity, alter the tumor microenvironment – and ultimately to kill cancer. In addition to reprogramming monocytes to target difficult-to-treat cancers, the platform offers Myeloid and its partners many additional advantages, including novel mRNA-based protein and gene delivery, a library of intermixed cell receptors, and chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) that may be applied to enhance treatment effects or to engineer novel tri- and bi-specific cell engagers.
Myeloid is currently focused on advancing two categories of novel ATAK therapies: ATAK CAR monocytes and ATAK primed monocytes. ATAK CAR monocytes are myeloid cells with innate immune receptor-inspired CARs to recognize and kill cancer. ATAK primed monocytes function like cell vaccines, programmed to trigger T cells to kill cancer cells.
Manufacturing candidates from the ATAK platform benefit from speed and scalability in manufacturing process development. The Myeloid team can scale manufacturing rapidly, from product concept to clinical use. In addition, current products derived from the ATAK platform have a single-day cell manufacturing process. Given the observed strengths of the manufacturing process, Myeloid reasonably envisions same-day ATAK platform treatment, especially relevant upon clinical presentation of aggressive tumors. The Company is also in the process of developing "off the shelf" approaches in order to advance the full range of clinical delivery options.
Myeloid Leadership and Scientific Advisory Board
As co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Myeloid, Daniel Getts, Ph.D., MBA, oversees the Company's portfolio and growth strategies. Dr. Getts is a repeat biotech entrepreneur, having led research at TCR2 through its IPO and the development of the first cell therapy to show clinical responses in ovarian cancer. Before that, he co-founded Cour Pharmaceuticals Development Company.
The Company's Scientific Advisory Board includes world-renowned scientists whose expertise span oncology, immunology, cell therapy, synthetic biology and genetic engineering:
- Alberto Mantovani, M.D., Humanitas University;
- Discovered and pioneered research into tumor-associated macrophages
- Miriam Merad, M.D., Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai;
- Myeloid, macrophage and tumor microenvironment immunologist
- Siamon Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., University of Oxford;
- Discovered the scavenger receptor
- Owen A. O'Connor, M.D., PhD., Columbia University;
- Expert in lymphoma and drug development
- Cameron Turtle, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center;
- Cell therapy expert
- Michael Dee Gunn, M.D., Duke University;
- Antigen presentation and T cell expert
- Steven M. Horwitz, M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center;
- Expert in T cell lymphoma drug development
- Michael Lin, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine;
- Bioengineering expert
- Nick King, M.D., Ph.D., The University of Sydney;
- Myeloid cell trafficking expert
- Dianne Cox, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine;
- Phagocytosis expert
"Our mission is to apply our energy and significant research capabilities to design and develop truly transformative treatments," said Dr. Getts. "We built Myeloid's ATAKTM platform to overcome many limitations of existing cell therapies, in part by embracing the natural tendencies of monocytes to penetrate solid tumors and catalyze immune reactions. By harnessing the power of monocytes, which are the cells that comprise the largest population of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment, we are working to bring new therapies to patients. We have also designed and successfully implemented an efficient, flexible manufacturing process that sets a new threshold for cell therapies. We are very pleased to have the support of this strong group of investors, who enable us to further develop the ATAK platform, to advance multiple solid tumor programs into the clinic, and to bring forward new transformative programs as we broaden Myeloid's pipeline."
"Myeloid cells are the body's front-line-disease-fighting tools, and they are critical in the orchestration of adaptive immune responses. These myeloid cells are overrepresented in solid cancers and I have been fascinated with their therapeutic potential since researching them during my medical training," said Thomas Cahill, M.D., Ph.D., Myeloid co-founder and Managing Partner of Newpath Partners. "Most other cell therapies focus on reprogramming the adaptive immune system and they have truly improved patient outcomes, especially with respect to liquid tumors. To expand on this promise, the next logical step was to empower the cells at the front lines of solid tumors. By engineering myeloid cells, the Company is developing an extremely versatile and potent class of new therapeutic agents. I look forward to continuing to support this team through their first wave of clinical trials and beyond."
To read the original article, click here.