Cancer is a heterogeneous disease whose pathogenesis is often driven by multiple signaling pathways or genetic alterations which evolve with treatment and metastasis. We are developing bispecific antibodies to overcome this therapeutic challenge. Bispecific antibodies can simultaneously recognize multiple tumor surface antigens and/or active immune cells. The potential treatment outcomes of the bispecific antibodies may be superior to that associated with existing treatments which address just a single pathway or genetic alteration. Elpis is developing bispecific antibodies against tumor specific antigens, pathologic pathways and tumor microenvironment targets.
Activation of certain immune cells, such as NK cells and cytotoxic T-Cells, can effectively eradicate tumor lesions. However, immunosuppressive cells including regulatory T cells, myeloid-derived suppressor cells, and tumor-associated macrophages may counteract this immune activation, particularly in the tumor microenvironment. Cytokines produced by immune cells, such as IL-2, TNF-a, and IL-10, are important for the regulation of immune function. Utilizing our mSCAFoldTM technology, we can deliberately engineer biased cytokines or chemokines to stimulate immune cells to fight cancer, while downregulating suppressive immune cells. Such rational design-based immuno-modulators may lead to more effective new therapies with less systemic toxicity. This technology can also redirect functions of other important proteins positioning for better therapeutic efficacies. EPIM-001 is the leading immuno-modulator drug candidate for various solid tumors. We are conducting animal studies to understand its mechanism of action and tumor killing efficacy. We plan to advance EPIM-001 to clinical studies in early 2021.
Adoptive cell therapy is a rapidly emerging immunotherapeutic in which a patient’s own immune cells are engineered to fight against their cancer cells. CAR (Chimeric Antigen Receptor)-T cells are T-cells engineered with a tumor specific antibody and T cell signaling domains to enable a specific engagement of immune cells to the cancer cells. While CAR T cells have demonstrated incredible clinical results thus far, patients often relapse due to tumor antigen loss. To combat tumor antigen loss and subsequent tumor escape, we are developing next generation CAR-T cell therapeutics that target two or more tumor specific/associated antigens simultaneously. This may significantly improve the therapeutic response and duration of CAR-T treatment. Elpis is currently developing a dual targeting CAR-T drug candidate EPC-001 for hematologic tumors. We plan to advance the drug to phase I clinical trial in early 2021.