$3.2 Million Grant from Skolkovo Foundation for Novel Immunotherapeutic to Target Cervical, Head and Neck Cancers Associated with HPV
WATERTOWN, MASS. — Selecta Biosciences, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel drugs that use immune-modulating nanomedicines based on Synthetic Vaccine Particles (SVP™), announced today that it has been awarded a $3.2 million grant from Skolkovo Foundation in support of Selecta's program to develop an SVP immunotherapy to treat cancers caused by infections with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), such as cervical, head and neck cancers. The grant award will assist with advancing an SVP cancer immunotherapy from preclinical through early clinical evaluation. This immuno-oncology program is designed to develop novel SVP immunotherapies capable of harnessing the body's 'killer' immune cells, known as cytolytic T-lymphocytes (CTL), to attack HPV-transformed tumor cells.
"These funds will help Selecta to rapidly validate our SVP platform in immuno-oncology, the most promising field of cancer therapy today," said Werner Cautreels, PhD, President and CEO of Selecta. "With this grant, Selecta's past and committed grant funding now exceeds $20 million, strategically enabling us to work on therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines in parallel to our core focus on antigen-specific immune tolerance."
In preclinical studies, SVP immunotherapeutics have demonstrated synergistic effects with anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 antibodies, a family of checkpoint inhibitors under development for various cancers. Leveraging the immune-activating potential of its SVP immunotherapeutics, Selecta intends to broaden its CTL program to other cancer types and chronic infections in parallel to the HPV program.
"We see tremendous potential to leverage the durable CTL-activating SVP immunotherapeutics in conjunction with the emerging class of checkpoint inhibitors," said Takashi Kishimoto, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Selecta. "Immune checkpoint inhibitors relieve the immunosuppressive microenvironment found in tumors and chronic infections, while our SVP products elicit a focused and durable immune response specifically targeted against tumors and infected cells"
About HPV-associated cancer
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection is a sexually transmitted infection which can lead to the development of cancer. Scientific publications report that HPV is found in 99.7 percent of cases of cervical cancer, in 72 percent of cases of head and neck cancer and as well as up to 55 percent of oropharyngeal cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HPV is responsible for 530,000 new cases of cervical cancer worldwide causing 270,000 deaths annually. For the United States, the Center of Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are 26,000 cases of HPV associated cancer per year.
Selecta Biosciences, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel drugs that use immune modulating nanomedicines to generate targeted antigen-specific immune responses to prevent and treat disease. Selecta's proprietary Synthetic Vaccine Particle (SVP) platform creates a novel paradigm in immunotherapeutics and vaccines, enabling completely new applications while offering the potential of improved efficacy and safety profiles.
Selecta's immunomodulatory SVPs can induce antigen-specific immune tolerance, enabling them to be applied in a variety of therapeutic areas with large unmet medical need. The company is focused on three key near-term applications: inhibition of immunogenicity of biologic therapies, treatment of allergies, and treatment of autoimmune diseases. Immunogenicity adversely affects the safety and efficacy profile for many biological therapies, and is known to have caused the termination of a number of promising biological therapies in clinical development. Selecta's SVP is a product engine that has the potential to unlock the full therapeutic value of biologic therapies.
SVP immunotherapeutics can activate the body's 'killer' immune cells, known as cytolytic T-lymphocytes (CTL), to selectively attack tumor or chronically infected cells. For Immuno-oncology applications, SVP products are capable of being used either alone or in conjunction with other cancer immunotherapies to elicit a focused and durable immune response specifically targeted against tumors. Selecta's initial programs in cancer include cervical, head, neck and other cancers.
Through proprietary products and collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies and research organizations, Selecta is building a pipeline of product candidates to address unmet medical needs in serious and chronic diseases. Selecta Biosciences, Inc. is based in Watertown, Massachusetts, USA. For more information, please visit www.selectabio.com.