Agalimmune Founded to Develop Immunotherapeutics for Cancer
News Dec 03, 2013
Agalimmune Ltd has been created to develop innovative immunotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer, with a focus on solid tumours.
The new company has been founded by an investment group comprising Loxbridge Research LLP and Animatrix Capital LLP.
Agalimmune is based both in London (Agalimmune Ltd) and California (Agalimmune Inc.). The funding will be used to continue the translation of Agalimmune’s leading immunotherapeutic technology, Alphaject™, licensed from the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), to the clinic.
Alphaject is based on over 20 years of biomedical research carried out by UMMS Professor of Surgery and Medicine Uri Galili, PhD, who discovered the anti-gal immune response and its role in ‘hyper-acute’ organ rejection.
The Alphaject technology includes methods for treating solid tumours in such a way that the immune system actively rejects them, akin to a non-matched graft or transplant. Tumours are directly injected with the Alphaject compound, to which humans naturally have a high antibody titre.
Alphaject coats the tumour cells in alphagal, thereby presenting a foreign antigen to the immune system. This is thought to bring about a 'hyper-acute rejection' of the tumour, and breaks the immune tolerance shielding the tumour from attack, allowing the immune system to both begin to destroy the tumour immediately and also to confer a long-lasting protection over time in the form of enhanced immune surveillance. The effect is analogous to a personalized cancer vaccine, acting continuously to prevent both metastasis and recurrence.
Mike Westby, CEO of Agalimmune, commented: “The development of immunomodulatory therapies is an exciting and rapidly emerging field, which hopefully will lead to improved anti-cancer treatments for patients. We welcome Loxbridge Research and Animatrix Capital as investors.”
Dr Charles Roberts, MD, CEO of Loxbridge Research, said: "Agalimmune is the first therapeutic investment we have made at a stage when the technology has already been in patients, and we are honoured to be working with proven innovators UMass Medical School and Dr Galili, in furthering this promising treatment toward the eventual benefit of people battling cancer. The investment we are making in the technology represents an upper mid-size in our portfolio, and whilst it will follow our investment model in general we are delighted to welcome in a dedicated and industry-experienced team from the outset, given the relatively late stage of the technology."
“Immunotherapy holds great promise as a potential cancer treatment because it allows the body’s own immune system to identify and eradicate cancer cells,” said Giles Whalen, MD, professor of surgical oncology at UMass Medical School and principal investigator on early clinical trials to develop the Alphaject technology. “One of the great benefits of this approach is that the immune system can seek out and attack even the smallest traces of tumour anywhere in the body. What makes Alphaject so remarkable is that it’s designed to alert the immune system and respond to a specific type of cancer cell. Unlike other immunomodulatory therapies, which may stimulate the immune system to attack cells indiscriminately, this helps ensure healthy cells don’t get mistakenly targeted and destroyed.”