Over the past several years, researchers in the pharmaceutical industry have complained of a dearth of novel drug targets. Thankfully, the technology of PureMHC represents a rejuvenating wellspring of drug development for cancer, infectious disease, and autoimmune disease. It leverages the same targets that the body’s own immune system responds to in order to fight these diseases. The platform has two parts: novel drug target discovery (referred to as “Epitope Discovery”) and generation of therapeutics designed to recognize those targets (T-cell receptor mimicking monoclonal antibodies or TCRms).
How the Body’s Immune System Works
What the body does naturally to rid itself of diseased cells involves cutting out pieces of molecules from the disease, or the infectious organism that causes the disease, and displaying them on the surface of the diseased cell. Circulating antibodies in the blood will attack and kill the cells that are displaying these pieces.
Typical Target Discovery Methods in Research
Other companies’ methods for discovering drug targets typically rely on an educated selection of molecules that have been thought – or shown – to be associated with or directly responsible for the disease. Once selected, those methods then attempt to create a second molecule that blocks, or otherwise affects, that target in some way, and hope that the downstream effect of disrupting this target will result in stopping the disease.
The PureMHC Method
PureMHC’s epitope discovery technology finds these small pieces of disease-specific debris directly from the diseased cells, tissue, or tumor itself. These immune system triggering pieces become the drug targets for PureMHC’s therapeutic platform.
Using these disease-specific targets, PureMHC creates a type of real antibody that mimics something called the T-cell receptor, which triggers the most powerful level of the immune responses. PureMHC’s TCRms trigger all the same responses at this level that natural T-cell receptors do.
Other companies’ methods make antibody-like molecules that trigger the immune system at lower levels and rely on the diseased cells to convey those lower signals to the T-cell receptor level. The problem is that many diseases, cancer especially, have ways of blocking these signaling steps and the T-cell response never happens.
PureMHC’s TCRms leapfrog over all these intermediate steps to trigger the most powerful immune response. TCRms can also be used to make several other innovative therapeutic drugs types being investigated today, including antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), bispecific antibodies, and chimeric antigen receptors (CARs).
PureMHC – A Better Way
Using these paired target discovery and therapeutic technologies, PureMHC has discovered novel drug targets specific to breast cancers that do not respond to other drugs (like Herceptin), platin-resistant breast and ovarian cancer, and 9 other types of solid tumor and blood-borne cancers. Among the pipeline of PureMHC’s TCRms are ones that have been shown to protect against West Nile Virus; eliminate breast tumors from mice; and that can cross the blood-brain barrier to treat brain cancers or other cancers that have spread to the brain.
PureMHC’s lead drug candidate, hRL21, is in preclinical studies for triple negative (or “ER-/PR-/HER2-“) breast cancer in anticipation of starting Phase I clinical trials in 2015.
Keep your eye on PureMHC. We’ll be at the BIO International Convention June 23rd through June 26th talking to potential partners about this promising technology. Emergent Technologies, Inc., will also attend the convention. Visit their dynamic, innovative team at the OKBio pavilion (booth #5137) as they showcase their Oklahoma-based technological developments.