HOUSTON, March 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced that the Company received notice of a $5.7 million company commercialization award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas ("CPRIT"). Bellicum was the only company recommended for funding in this second round of the commercialization award program. The award will fund personnel, manufacturing, and clinical testing of Bellicum's CaspaCIDe™ therapy, which promises to substantially improve outcomes for late stage cancer patients.
CPRIT was established to expedite cancer research innovation and commercialization and to enhance access to evidence-based prevention programs and services throughout the State. Company commercialization awards are a critical part of the Institute's initiative to support the advancement of the most promising opportunities towards regulatory approval and market launch. The State has announced more than $500 million in awards and matching funds for innovative cancer research and prevention programs.
The application review process included in-depth evaluation by scientific and commercialization experts, followed by regulatory, product development and intellectual property due diligence. Acceptance of the award is subject to the completion of contract negotiations. "We are pleased to have been recommended for a significant $5.7 million award from CPRIT to advance our novel therapy for patients with high risk cancers," said CEO Tom Farrell. "We are especially pleased to receive this notice given the rigorous review of our application by the CPRIT Commercialization Review Council, whose members have substantial scientific, venture capital and commercial expertise."
The award will support clinical development of CaspaCIDe™, Bellicum's solution to the problem of Graft versus Host Disease (GvHD), a debilitating and often fatal side effect of bone marrow transplantation. Originally developed by Bellicum CSO Dr. David Spencer, Vice Chair of Pathology and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine, and advanced into clinical trials by Dr. Malcolm Brenner, Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, CaspaCIDe™ works by allowing the transplant physician to selectively eliminate transplanted cells that cause GvHD. Building on promising early clinical results seen in Dr. Brenner's "CASPALLO" trial, the CPRIT award will support the execution of a randomized, double-blind clinical trial in patients with high risk hematologic malignancies.
"For cancer patients with high risk leukemias and lymphomas, a bone marrow transplant offers a chance of a cure, but mortality from the procedure is high," stated Bellicum Founder, Chairman and CMO Dr. Kevin Slawin. "In this application, CaspaCIDe™ provides a rapid and effective means to resolve GvHD, the number one problem facing transplant patients and their physicians today. More broadly, it has the potential to transform medicine by enabling a wide range of new, safer, more effective cell therapies."
About Bellicum Pharmaceuticals
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is developing clinical applications of chemical induction of dimerization (CID), a drug-based remote control technology that extends the physician's reach beyond the point at which a treatment has been administered. Bellicum's mission is to leverage this smart technology to bring safe, effective, innovative cell therapies to market for patients with serious and life threatening diseases. The company's DeCIDe™ vaccines are designed to kill targeted cells by inducing a potent, durable, fully activated antigen-specific T cell immune response. Lead product BPX-101, an autologous DeCIDe™ vaccine, is in clinical development for patients with metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). CaspaCIDe™ is a cell therapy safety switch, permitting the rapid elimination of cells in the event of toxicity. CaspaCIDe™ DLI is a donor lymphocyte infusion administered following a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, in which the safety switch may be activated to resolve graft vs. host disease (GvHD). For more information, visit http://www.bellicum.com.
SOURCE Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc.