The Wistar Institute has announced that it recently launched a startup, Immunaccel, to leverage proprietary technology, research infrastructure, and expertise to help its biotechology and pharmaceutical partners advance their lead immuno-oncology treatment candidates.
“We are pleased to be leveraging the power of Wistar Science to fuel Immunaccel’s engine for discovery and drug development,” Heather Steinman, PhD, MBA, vice president for Business Development and executive director for Technology Transfer at Wistar, said in a news release. Wistar, founded in 1892, is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center and the first independent biomedical research institute in the U.S.
Immunotherapies have proven successful against cancer, placing immunotherapeutic drugs at the forefront of cancer research and development globally. Most biotech and pharma companies have significantly re-prioritized their research activities to reflect the efficacy that immuno-oncology therapies are showing, and a wave of venture-backed startups are focused on identifying the next generation of immuno-oncology targets.
Immunaccel was established to fill a need for reliable and physiologically relevant in vitro model systems to translate these novel immuno-oncology targets into the clinic. Its patented, lead technology is a next generation, 3-D drug discovery and development platform that mimics the tumor microenvironment, helping to unveil the inner mechanisms at work there.
“Translating immuno-oncology therapies into the clinic has relied on traditional in vitro and in vivo model systems that are at times deficient in effectively mimicking the tumor micro-environment and obtaining mechanistic readouts,” said Immunaccel’s COO, Vik Subbu. “Immunaccel’s model system — know-how coupled with access to clinical samples through a collaborative network — makes our technology platform a unique value proposition and useful tool for our biotech and pharma partners developing immuno-oncology therapies.”
Added Rajasekharan Somasundaram, PhD, an assistant professor and immunologist at Wistar’s Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program, “By utilizing our unique 3-D model system together with patient-matched or patient-derived tumor and immune cells, we are able to recreate a patient’s unique tumor micro-environment in order to identify new immuno-oncology drug targets, assess the most effective combination of existing immunotherapies, and dissect the underlying mechanisms of treatment resistance and response to important immune checkpoint therapies such as anti-PD-1, PD-L1, CTLA4, and others.”