Pascal Biosciences Acquires Technology to Treat Leukemia from the University of New Mexico
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, September 11, 2017 - Pascal Biosciences Inc. (TSX.V:PAS) (“Pascal” or the “Company”), a drug discovery and development company, today announced that the Company has executed an exclusive, worldwide license option agreement with STC.UNM (“STC”), the University of New Mexico’s (“UNM”) technology-transfer and economic-development organization, to acquire a therapeutic monoclonal antibody for B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL).
ALL is the most common childhood cancer, peaking around two to five years of age, and is also seen in older adults above age fifty. This disease is caused by mutations during the early development of lymphocytes. Tumor cells from the majority of ALL patients express the marker VpreB1, a subunit of the pre–B cell receptor (pre-BCR). Dr. Bridget S. Wilson and Dr. Stuart S. Winter and their colleagues at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered a high-affinity, fully human monoclonal antibody specific for VpreB1 that kills ALL tumor cells in cell culture. Expression of this marker is limited to leukemic cells and a small subset of developing immune cells called pre-B cells. Therefore, targeting VpreB1 specifically eliminates the tumor cells, while sparing the more mature memory B cells that are essential to the immune system in combating infection. In contrast, drugs targeting more broadly expressed markers, such as CD19, destroy not only the pre-B leukemia cells but also the more mature B cells. Therefore, this VpreB1-targeted therapy is likely to be much safer than chemotherapy, which destroys all growing cells and has significant detrimental side effects.
“Due to its bivalent nature, the pre-BCR is a particularly novel and ideal antigen for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (“CAR-T”) therapy,” says Dr. Wilson. “And, since crosslinking of the pre-BCR leads to rapid endocytosis, anti-VpreB1 antibodies are ideal for drug delivery. We look forward to working with Pascal on advancing this discovery into human clinical trials.” The UNM technology covers all VpreB1-targeted therapeutics such as antibody-drug conjugates and CAR-T therapy. Pascal will also work with UNM to develop a diagnostic screen to determine which patients will best respond to therapy targeting VpreB1.
“We are very pleased to acquire this novel technology from UNM, and we look forward to working closely with Drs. Wilson and Winter. Fortunately, most patients with this devastating disease can be cured with standard chemotherapy. However, those that fail chemotherapy usually have poor outcomes, and we believe VpreB1 therapy has great potential to treat these patients,” commented Dr. Patrick Gray, CEO of Pascal. “In addition, young patients that receive chemotherapy often develop other cancers as they mature, so a more targeted therapy focused on VpreB1 may prevent future serious complications.”
“This innovation involves a less-toxic cancer therapy that has the potential to improve quality of life and decrease mortality rates in leukemia patients. We feel very fortunate to be partnering with Pascal Biosciences to bring this technology to market,” added Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer of STC.
ABOUT PASCAL BIOSCIENCES INC.
Pascal focuses on harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer, autoimmune disorders, and infectious disease. The Company’s three significant technologies are:
- Utilizing proprietary screening systems for identifying novel compounds that are able to restore immune recognition and killing of cancer cells;
- Exploiting the regulation of specific calcium channels expressed by cells of the immune system. By regulating these calcium channels, immune activity can be controlled to combat cancers, infections and autoimmune diseases; and
- Modulating CD74, a protein involved in the immune system, to promote immune responses to cancer and pathogenic microbes. Finding molecules that regulate CD74 activity will aid the immune system to combat infections and cancers and to control autoimmune diseases.
To learn more, visit: https://www.pascalbiosciences.com/.
As the technology-transfer and economic-development organization for the University of New Mexico, STC.UNM protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring them to the marketplace. STC connects the business community (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. STC’s vision is to play a vital role in New Mexico’s economic development and to be a leader in technology commercialization. Under the leadership of CEO Lisa Kuuttila, STC is substantially growing its program using the Rainforest model to develop an innovation economy in New Mexico. To learn more, visit: https://stc.unm.edu.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors
Dr. Patrick W. Gray, President & CEO
Dr. Patrick Gray
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