ROCKVILLE, Md., July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- MacroGenics, Inc, a privately held biotechnology company that develops immunotherapeutics to treat autoimmune disorders, cancer and infectious diseases, today announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the company three new grants representing total funding of $9.8 million. These grants will help MacroGenics further advance its Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART), or bispecific antibody scaffold platform, as well as its portfolio of infectious disease product candidates. The first of three recently awarded NIH grants will fund preclinical IND-enabling activities related to MacroGenics' Inflammation DART. This DART specifically targets B lymphocytes with the potential to treat a broad range of autoimmune diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other disorders.
MacroGenics was awarded two additional NIH grants related to infectious disease pathogens. These grants, both of which fall under NIH's "Partnerships for Biodefense Viral Pathogens," cover research and development activities to create an antibody-based therapy for Chikungunya Virus and a DART-based pan-Dengue Virus immunotherapeutic for prophylaxis and treatment of Dengue Virus. Both viruses are insect-borne and transmitted to humans by virus-carrying mosquitoes. Dr. Michael Diamond at Washington University in St. Louis developed the Chikungunya and Dengue antibodies and is the grantee for the Chikungunya Virus award; MacroGenics is the sub-recipient.
MacroGenics also announced today the publication of two articles related to its DART platform. These articles appeared in the July 2010 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism(1) and the June 2010 issue of Journal of Molecular Biology(2). In addition, progress with respect to the company's DART platform has been presented at several recent scientific conferences.
This platform has broad potential applications for developing novel therapeutics. These include approaches to signaling immune-mediated cells to treat autoimmune disorders, the redirecting of immune cells to kill tumors and inhibition of different signaling pathways required for tumor growth. Furthermore, this technology is especially promising for treating certain infectious diseases, as it enables the targeting of two serotypes of a pathogen with a single molecule.
"We have made tremendous progress on our DART platform," said Dr. Scott Koenig, President and CEO. "We believe we have the ability to create highly potent DART-based therapeutics and the funding from NIH will help us move forward two product candidates based on our proprietary platform."
Background on DART
MacroGenics' DART technology is focused on dual specificity antibody-based therapeutic proteins, which enables the creation of highly stable, recombinant molecules that can simultaneously target two different antigens. DART therapeutics can accommodate virtually any variable region sequence in a "plug-and-play" fashion, are potent, and have very favorable manufacturing properties. To date, the company has engineered over 60 different DART molecules and has completed multiple in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept studies with several prototypes. The company has been able to produce DART molecules in both bacterial and mammalian expression systems. DARTs also have been engineered with an Fc domain, which confers them with additional properties, such as Fc receptor binding and extended half-life. This functionality can be further expanded with the inclusion of MacroGenics' proprietary Fc domain portfolio. MacroGenics has established and continues to expand a patent estate around the DART technology.
About MacroGenics, Inc.
MacroGenics is a private, venture-backed biotechnology company that focuses on the discovery, development and delivery to patients of novel biologics for autoimmune disorders, cancer and infectious diseases. Since its founding in 2000, the company has built a fully-integrated set of capabilities in monoclonal antibody product development. The company's product development efforts leverage three proprietary technology platforms: (1) cancer stem-like cells; (2) DART, which allows the company to incorporate multiple specificities within a single molecule; and (3) Fc optimization, which enhances antibody-dependent effector functions. These powerful sets of capabilities and technology platforms have enabled MacroGenics to build a proprietary pipeline of innovative product candidates. The company's lead program, teplizumab, is an anti-CD3 antibody being developed for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. For more information about MacroGenics, please visit www.macrogenics.com.
Statements made in this news release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "expects," "believes," "intends," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Actual results may differ materially from those projected in any forward-looking statement. Specifically, there are a number of important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated, such as the Company's ability to raise additional capital, and risks related to the Company's ability to initiate, and enroll patients in, planned clinical trials. You should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements. The Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or developments, except as required by law.
(1) Veri MC, Burke S, Huang L, Li H, Gorlatov S, Tuaillon N, et al. Therapeutic control of b-cell activation via recruitment of Fcgamma receptor IIB (CD32B) inhibitory function with a novel bispecific antibody scaffold. Arthritis Rheum, 2010 Mar 30;62(7):1933-43.
(2) Johnson S, Burke S, Huang L, Gorlatov S, Li H, Wang W, et al. Effector Cell Recruitment with Novel Fv-based Dual-affinity Re-targeting Protein Leads to Potent Tumor Cytolysis and in Vivo B-cell Depletion. J Mol Biol, 2010 Apr 9;399(3):436-49.
SOURCE MacroGenics, Inc.