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Start-up Spotlight: Multimmune GmbH
Posted on November 18th, 2016 by Betsy Davis in Pharma R&D
Munich-based biopharma start-up multimmune GmbH is in our spotlight this week due to the company’s inspired research efforts. Professor A. Graham Pockley, Chief Executive Officer of multimmune, discusses how they are working towards the development of more cost-effective cancer treatments.
Tell us about the company.
Multimmune GmbH is a private, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company which has developed a unique and proprietary technology platform on the basis of the discovery by the founding scientists (Professor Gabriele Multhoff, Dr. Claus Botzler) that cell surface-bound Hsp70 is uniquely expressed on a large proportion of cancers (~50-75%), but not on healthy cells. This makes this form of Hsp70 an excellent and broadly-applicable molecule on which to base the development of innovative therapeutics and diagnostics (theranostics).
Describe multimmune’s background and what the company is working to achieve.
Although progress in the development of new cancer therapies for the majority of tumor entities progresses at a pace, key challenges in the management and treatment of aggressive disease remain. Another big challenge relates to the time and cost of drug development, and thereby the ability of the healthcare providers to afford the therapeutics that are developed. The identification of more “universal” targeting structures that are present across different cancer entities will consolidate the costs of developing therapies during the pre-clinical and early clinical phases.
Multimmune’s proprietary platform technology is based on the discovery of a novel tumor specific marker, a membrane-expressed form of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). Membrane Hsp70 is most frequently expressed on a variety of different tumor types, including lung, colon, breast, head and neck, stomach, pancreas carcinomas, malignant melanoma, and hematological diseases, but never on the corresponding normal tissues. In addition to primary tumors, metastases, the major cause of death by cancer, present even higher amounts of Hsp70 on their surface membranes. Metastatic disease is responsible for approximately 90% of all cancer-related deaths. Furthermore, conventional therapies such as radio(chemo)therapy increase the expression of membrane Hsp70 on tumors and therefore enhances their sensitivity to therapeutic approaches that target this form of the molecule.
Based on its discovery of membrane Hsp70, multimmune has succeeded in developing a powerful product, termed ENKASTIM, which allows, for the first time, a unique and specific activation of human natural killer (NK) cells which are programmed to recognize and kill cancers expressing membrane Hsp70 via the release of a cytotoxic molecule called granzyme B. These cells destroy tumors and metastases that are invisible to the cell killing (cytolytic) consequences of more conventional T cell-based immunotherapies.
Hsp70-expressing tumors can also be targeted using a unique monoclonal antibody which can detect the membrane form of Hsp70 (mi-TUMEXtx) and a serine protease (granzyme B, mi-APO) which can selectively kill cancer cells expressing the membrane form of Hsp70.
Why is this research so important, and what impact will it have on the industry?
The identification of a tumor-associated marker which is broadly and selectively expressed on a wide range of tumor entities has allowed the development of a broad range of theranostics having a wide applicability. Having a single target dramatically increases the translational potential of theranostics that are based on this target, and also the cost of developing these. The ability to target metastatic disease and add the new therapy onto existing approaches further enhances the potential adoption of these platforms into the clinical setting.
Why does this work matter so much right now?
The escalating costs of drug development are causing challenges to the healthcare providers, even in the developed world. It is essential that more cost-effective approaches for developing and delivering new diagnostics and therapeutics are therefore explored. The identification of a single molecule which can be used to categorize, image, and target ‘aggressive’ disease presents a plethora of exciting opportunities for developing cost-effective strategies for managing and treating patients with a range of cancers.
What will the next steps for the company be?
The concept of using ex vivo activated natural killer (NK) cells as a therapeutic approach for the treatment of non small cell lung carcinoma is currently being assessed in a multicenter, randomized trial in Germany. The data arising from this clinical trial will support the acquisition of financing to support the next phase of its clinical development.
The other elements of Multimmune’s pipeline (see http://www.multimmune.com/INVESTMENT-OPPORTUNITIES/) are being developed, with the intention of them entering clinical trials as soon as possible. The company is also exploring the possibility of combining their therapeutic approaches (NK cell therapy, granzyme B-mediated therapy, antibody-drug conjugate therapies) with checkpoint inhibition.
Are you looking for partners or investment?
Multimmune GmbH is offering a number of innovative funding opportunities for investors to support and engage with the timely development and targeted translational delivery and exploitation of its pipeline THERAPEUTICS, DIAGNOSTICS, and IMAGING platforms.
A final word from Multimmune’s CEO …
“The identification of a single molecule which is widely expressed by cancers, and the expression of which is enhanced by conventional therapy (membrane Hsp70), has provided an exciting platform on which to develop an innovative toolbox of cancer theranostics. Although the term has already been used in a number of settings, one could consider membrane Hsp70 as being the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of cancer theranostics.”
–Professor A. Graham Pockley, CEO
To get in contact with Professor A. Graham Pockley, or to follow Multimmune:
All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.
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