On March 27th, Pamela Contag, Ph.D. CEO of BioEclipse Therapeutics (“Therapeutics”), led a conversation about a paradigm shift in cancer therapy. The panel included Catherine Sohn (Chairman of the Board of Therapeutics). This hour-long event was moderated by Joseph Ventresca, Managing Director of Investment Banking at VENTURE.co Brokerage Services, and it is the latest of VENTURE.co’s webinar series.
The conversation began with Dr. Contag introducing the current paradigm of cancer therapy. “Although achievements in cancer therapy have been made, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and most immune therapies still result in tumor resistance to therapy and recurrence of disease… the [accepted] standard of care causes extreme toxicity and this significantly diminishes the patient’s quality of life over the course of the treatment, which may be measured in years… New immunotherapies are promising but overall, few patients are cured… Several factors limit immune therapies the most important is that most therapies are directed against one tumor target which can disappear from the tumor over the course of treatment. This evolved tumor can regrow and cause resistance to disease. Another issue is that for engineered cell therapies and antibody therapies, a person’s own immune system can react to eliminate that cell or molecule from the body. In other words, your body can mount an immune response against an immunotherapy.”
Dr. Contag described how BioEclipse Therapeutics is shifting this paradigm. “We need… multi-mechanistic tumor killing directed against both common and specific tumor biomarkers… The reason is that cancer cells can evolve based on the last therapy they had… What we are trying to do is attack a broader range of what is represented in cancer and use a therapy that can result in a durable immune response protecting against this resistance and recurrence of the tumor.”
Dr. Contag successfully started and ran several life sciences firms during her career. She was named one of the “Top 25 Women in Small Business” by Fortune magazine (2001). Dr. Contag said, “I have a PhD in microbiology and immunology. My goal in life is to take science from bench to commercialization. I love this process and value what my scientific training brings to the table.”
Dr. Sohn also has broad experience as a drug development expert, with a degree in pharmacy and as a global biopharmaceutical executive. Dr. Contag and Dr. Sohn talked about how they met through the Board at Johns Hopkins. The pair reconnected in a San Francisco restaurant after some of the therapy’s preclinical trials. There they decided to begin building an executive team and scientific advisory board to bring the new therapy to realization, and BioEclipse Therapeutics was born.
Sohn and Contag have discussed how BioEclipse Therapeutics has brought together robust technology with a highly experienced management team. The very nature of the therapy allows Bioeclipse’s business model to scale. Rather than requiring the patient’s own cells (“autologous”), the therapy allows for non-related cells to be used in therapy. The therapy also can be applied to multiple types of cancer, including both solid and liquid tumors. Dr. Contag summarized the important intellectual property already protecting the company and how the Company will continue to augment its IP position over time. BioEclipse wants to put the right resources in place for each of the upcoming firm milestones, which include phase I/II human clinical trials for patients with ovarian cancer.
As Dr. Contag explained, “Here’s how our mechanism of action is different. Our therapy is made up of two components. Our components are not merely additive in their mechanism of action, they are synergistic in their mechanism of action. What that means is one plus one does not equal two, one plus one here equals to be exact, well, it would be one thousand!”
The therapy, CRX-100, combines a tumor seeking oncolytic virus with NK-T immune cells. Dr. Contag described how it works, “We set about finding the right combination that could solve this problem. The first component is an oncolytic virus (Vaccinia). This oncolytic virus can replicate but is also tumor selective, that’s really key… This virus is known to create an immune response against tumor cells and tumor antigens… It also has a natural ability to hide within our specific immune cell. Our immune cells are NK-T cells (killer cells)…Killer cells have been designed by nature to hone and traffic to the tumor target… This cell has its own inherent cell killing ability directed against tumor cells… There’s synergy here in that the cell’s killing ability is also directed towards virally infected tumor cells. So, when we deliver this combined therapy and the virus infects the tumor cell and starts to kill it, it attracts more of the immune system to kill those virally infected cells.”
The preclinical results were striking. In animal subjects that were inoculated with human ovarian cancer, none of the subjects that were given the placebo survived. Whereas 100% of the subjects treated with BioEclipse’s CRX-100 therapy survived and were disease-free. What is more, the therapy was effective at generating a memory immune response for immune competent animals with lymphoma. Animals treated with the CRX 100 therapy were resistant to cancer when inoculated again months later with a new tumor. If these findings hold in human trials it would present a massive favorable shift in prognosis for patients who are battling advanced metastatic cancer.
Disclosure: BioEclipse Therapeutics, Inc. is a venture-stage cancer immunotherapy company with headquarters in South San Francisco. VENTURE.co Brokerage Services LLC, a 50-state registered broker-dealer (member, FINRA), is the managing broker-dealer for this investment opportunity. Revelis Capital Group is a venture capital investor and Manager of the Single Purpose Vehicle through which equity shares are being offered. The terms of the offering will be explained and the pathbreaking bio-technology will be summarized in the webinar. Accredited investors may request the Private Placement Memorandum, which includes risk disclosure and detailed terms, from Joseph Venstreca at firstname.lastname@example.org.