KAHR Announces Exclusive Licensing Agreement with Thomas Jefferson University for Novel Platform of Bi- and Tri-Specific Fusion Proteins for Cancer Immunotherapy
KAHR adds two preclinical products, DSP502, a TIGITxPD1 fusion protein, and DSP216, a LILRB2xSIRPa fusion protein, to its pipeline
JERUSALEM, April 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — KAHR, a cancer immunotherapy company developing novel multifunctional immuno-recruitment proteins, announced today that it has entered into a licensing agreement with Thomas Jefferson University — a national doctoral research university — and its clinical enterprise, Jefferson Health, located in Philadelphia, PA. Under the agreement, Thomas Jefferson University is granting KAHR an exclusive license to develop and commercialize multiple new drug candidates including DSP502, a TIGITxPD1 fusion protein, and DSP216, a LILRB2xSIRPa fusion protein for immuno-oncology.
“With this agreement we are adding a second fusion protein platform to our portfolio, enabling us to broaden our immuno-oncology target pipeline and positioning KAHR as a world leader in the fusion protein space,” said Yaron Pereg, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of KAHR. “Both DSP502 and DSP216 focus on promising checkpoint pathways, unleashing the potential of innate and adaptive immune cells and enhancing anti-tumor immunoactivity through dual checkpoint inhibition. These products are differentiated from current drug candidates targeting the same pathways as they target the ligands, not the receptors, thus increasing tumor selectivity by dual binding and avoiding potential redundancy compensation by other receptors of the same ligands.”
“Expanding our collaboration with the outstanding team at KAHR provides the opportunity to expand this new platform into novel targets and to unleash the activity of other immune cell types of the innate and adaptive immune systems,” said Mark Tykocinski, MD, Provost of Thomas Jefferson University and Dean of its Sidney Kimmel Medical College.
“The synergy between Dr. Tykocinski’s innovative work on activation of anti-cancer immunity using multifunctional recombinant proteins and KAHR’s dedication to the development of cutting-edge immuno-recruitment cancer drugs is the next step to accelerate the translation of this technology to the clinic,” said Dr. Heather Rose, Jefferson’s Innovation Vice President, who led the negotiations. “KAHR is a perfect partner for Jefferson to advance this compelling and important work,” added Dr. Rose Ritts, Jefferson’s Innovation Executive Vice President, who oversees out-licensing of Jefferson-owned intellectual property.
KAHR’s current technology is based on multi-functional immuno-recruitment proteins (MIRP) that take advantage of the overexpression of checkpoint antigens on cancer cells in order to selectively target the tumor. Its lead asset, DSP107, is a bi-functional fusion protein that targets CD47 and 4-1BB. It triggers a local, synergistic immune response by binding both CD47, over-expressed on cancer cells, thereby disabling its “don’t eat me” signal, and 4-1BB receptors expressed on activated, tumor-reactive T-cells, stimulating their proliferation and activation. The trimeric structure of DSP107 and its binding to CD47 enables cross-presentation of 4-1BBL for conditional, tumor-localized 4-1BB receptor activation on tumor reactive T-cells.
DSP107 is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 multicenter, open-label, dose-escalation and expansion study (NCT04440735). The study is evaluating the safety, pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) of DSP107 as a monotherapy and in combination with Roche’s PD-L1-blocking checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab (Tecentriq®) in patients with advanced solid tumors.
KAHR develops the next generation of immuno-oncology drug candidates for the treatment of multiple types of cancer. The Company’s lead product, DSP107, is a second generation CD47x41BB targeting compound that simultaneously targets cancer cells, weakens their innate defenses and activates an effective, local response of both innate and adaptive immunity. KAHR’s technology platform is based on multi-functional immuno-recruitment proteins (MIRP) that utilize overexpression of checkpoint antigens on cancer cells in order to selectively target and bind to the tumor. MIRPs binding cancer cells to immune cells to produce a targeted synergistic effect by combining immune checkpoint inhibition with localized immune cell activation, unmasking cancer cell camouflage to enable innate immune response, while recruiting the adaptive immune system to bind and selectively kill the cancer cells. Investors in the Company include Flerie Invest AB, Oriella Limited a Consensus Business Group Limited subsidiary, Hadassit Bio Holdings, Pavilion Capital, Mirae Asset, Korean Investment Partners and DSC Investments. For more information, please visit https://kahrbio.com/
Thomas Jefferson University is a leader in transdisciplinary and experiential professional education. Jefferson, home of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College and the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, is a preeminent university delivering high-impact education in 160 undergraduate and graduate programs to 8,100 students in architecture, business, design, engineering, fashion and textiles, health, medicine, science and social science. Jefferson is re-defining the higher education value proposition with an approach that is collaborative and active; increasingly global; integrated with industry; focused on research across disciplines to foster innovation and discovery; and technology-enhanced. Student-athletes compete as the Jefferson Rams in the NCAA Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
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