ImmuneXcite develops antibody-drug conjugates to activate immune cells against cancer

Both antibody-drug conjugates and cancer immunotherapies are hot approaches for the treatment of cancer. What if a new therapy combines these two technologies? ImmuneXcite is developing antibody-glucan conjugates, known as mAbXcite, to activate immune cells against cancer.

The mAbXcite technology came from Dr. Rubin-Bejerano, ImmuneXcite’s CSO, when she was studying how neutrophils recognize fungi. Neutrophils are the most common type of white blood cell in humans. They are the first-line killers of bacteria and fungi.

Rubin-Bejerano purified a unique polymer of glucose, known as β-1,6-glucan, from fungal cell walls[1]. Bate-1,6-glucan could be recognized by neutrophils, triggering a immune attack on fungi. The discovery of β-1,6-glucan means Rubin-Bejerano found a way to recruit and activate neutrophils.

Systemic activation of neutrophils could be dangerous. Rubin-Bejerano discussed her results with Prof. Daniel Kohane at Harvard University. Kohane suggested her attaching β-1,6-glucan to antibodies, the resulting molecule could recruit neutrophils in a targeted way. The idea represents a new approach in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

mAbXcite

The appealing idea received financial support from angel investors. The new company raised $2.42 million as seed fund in January 2012. In January 2014, ImmuneXcite secured $3.58 million in second-round financing. Dr. Alan Smith, former Genzyme CSO, joined the company’s scientific advisory board.

ImmuneXcite reports new preclinical data at the AACR2015. mAbXcite-cetuximab demonstrates significantly greater efficacy than the original antibody. Mice that show complete regression do not develop new tumors when cancer cells were reintroduced, suggesting a lasting immune response.

[1] Cell Host Microbe. 2007, 2(1), 55-67.

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