Through innovative technologies and collaboration with leading academic institutions, we aim to harness the natural power of the human immune system for the treatment of cancer.
Despite major advances in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, around 14.1 million patients are diagnosed and 8.2 million die each year worldwide. These statistics powerfully illustrate the need for new breakthroughs in the fight against cancer.
Cancers are usually characterized by rapid cell growth. In the early years of cancer research, this rapid growth was used as a marker to recognize cancer cells. Drugs, developed to target and kill all fast-growing cells (chemotherapy), often lead to undesired side effects, such as gastrointestinal toxicity, hematological toxicity and other problems, such as hair loss. In some cases, toxicity from conventional chemotherapy drugs can cause serious harm or even be fatal.
Thanks to major advances in the understanding of the molecular biology of cancers specific cellular features have been discovered that are associated with certain cancers. These discoveries have allowed for the development of targeted cancer therapies. Targeted cancer therapies generally have fewer side effects compared to older chemotherapies.
We take this tactic even further by using living immune cells to target specific cancer molecules. This approach may bring two advantages:
Cancer cells express molecules either inside the cell or on the surface of the cancer cells that may be used as targets by anti-cancer immune cells. The challenge for us is to train the immune cells to recognize and exclusively target the cancer cells and not recognize and attack normal tissues in the patient.
We basically use two different approaches to generate immune cells that can recognize and specifically targeting cancer cells.
We are developing CMD-501 for the treatment of neuroblastoma. CMD-501 is an autologous cell therapy which utilizes our natural killer T (NKT) cell platform technology in combination with genetically engineered chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and secretion of the IL-15 cytokine to sustain the activity of the therapeutic cells within the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment.
See our press release regarding the first dosed patient here.
More information about the Neuroblastoma Trial can be found here https://www.bcm.edu/research/clinical-trials/h-41033