Tara Immuno-Oncology LLC, a private biopharmaceutical company that develops novel immuno-oncology products, recently announced it has acquired licenses from City of Hope to develop p53MVA (modified vaccinia ankara) and a Salmonella-based treatment targeting Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase (shIDO-ST), both to be used for multiple oncology indications.
Most tumors present mutations in the p53 gene, which in its wild-type form is responsible for maintaining normal cell division, but when mutated results in the accumulation of high levels of oncogenic p53 protein within tumor cells. Researchers have developed a genetically engineered version of the modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) virus to immunize patients with the wild-type p53 antigen (p53MVA). Using a viral vector to deliver full-length p53 has the potential to generate sustained antigen expression and the presentation of numerous antigenic determinants on different human leukocyte antigen HLA molecules.
Bacterial-based therapies are emerging as effective cancer treatments and are seen as promising treatments for refractory diseases such as pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. shIDO-ST technology uses a modified Salmonella-based bacterium to target the immunosuppressive molecule indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), which camouflages tumor cells, preventing immune-recognition tumor killing.
These two technologies derive from the innovative work of Don J. Diamond, PhD, chair of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at City of Hope, an independent California research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening conditions. Tara Immuno-Oncology will pay upfront and milestones to City of Hope in excess of $10 million, in addition to commercial royalties for the exclusive licenses.
“Our mission at Tara Immuno-Oncology is to utilize novel therapies to harness the body’s immune system to treat and potentially cure cancer patients,” Dhesh S. Govender, founder and CEO of Tara Immuno-Oncology, said in a news release. “We recognized the thoughtful approach and hard work of Don Diamond and his team of scientists to advance both p53MVA and shIDO-ST as novel immuno-oncology assets. We are very encouraged by the compelling data and responses from patients thus far and look forward to working with City of Hope to rapidly advance both therapies.”
George Megaw, Director of the Office of Technology Licensing at City of Hope, added: “City of Hope believes Tara I-O’s development expertise uniquely positions it to advance both the p53MVA and the shIDO-ST technology, ultimately providing more effective treatments for cancer patients here and around the world.”