The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) is partnering with Indapta Therapeutics to advance the biotechnology company’s investigational G-NK cell therapy into clinical trials for the treatment of multiple myeloma.
The financial support for the therapy’s development is being given by the MMRF through an investment made via its venture philanthropy arm, the Myeloma Investment Fund. The terms of the investment were not disclosed.
“Our investment in Indapta’s G-NK cell therapy is consistent with our strategy to fund the development of first-in-class, potentially transformative treatments,” Paul Giusti, president and CEO of the MMRF, said in a press release.
“Indapta’s off-the-shelf cell therapy uses a promising new class of NK cells, which could provide a significant benefit for patients,” he added.
The G-NK treatment was designed to improve the cancer cell-killing ability of monoclonal antibodies by pairing them with natural killer, or NK cells — a type of immune cell — taken from healthy donors. This pairing is expected to produce a much stronger targeted immune response than the antibody alone.
Transplanting immune cells from a healthy donor into a patient is known as allogeneic cell therapy and has become a powerful therapeutic strategy for many disorders affecting the blood, such as myeloma.
In this strategy, G-NK cells — NK cells from donors that have been infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common type of herpes virus known to infect approximately half the human population — are collected and used for therapy.
CMV rarely causes any symptoms, but slightly alters some NK cells in such a way that it makes them better at killing cancer cells that have been marked by a therapeutic antibody.
G-NK cells come from select subsets of these altered NK cells. Indapta combines these cells with a monoclonal antibody that locates and binds to cancer cells, acting somewhat like a flag for the G-NK immune attacks.
When an antibody binds cancer cells and G-NK cells, the G-NK cells release an increased amount of cancer-killing compounds than would antibody combinations or antibodies coupled to normal NK cells.
Indapta hopes that this increased efficiency will lead to less frequent dosing.
Preclinical studies have shown G-NK treatment to be safe and long-lasting. In studies using animal models of multiple myeloma and lymphoma, G-NK cell therapy paired with antibodies resulted in greater reductions in tumor growth and better survival rates than the antibodies alone, without triggering graft-vs-host disease (GvHD).
GvHD is a potentially life-threatening complication that occurs when the recipient’s body mounts an immune response to donor cells.
Guy DiPierro, founder and CEO of Indapta, said the company expects its partnership with the MMRF to prove “invaluable.”
“We look forward to tapping into MMRF’s deep myeloma expertise and other critical resources, including genomic datasets,” DiPierro said.
“The Foundation’s insights into patient recruitment and study networks will help us reach multiple myeloma patients for our own clinical trials,” he added.
Although Indapta is developing this therapy in the context of multiple myeloma, the strategy can be expanded to treat a wider range of cancers.
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