AUSTIN, Texas, May 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Pelican Therapeutics announced today that it won a $15,245,222 million New Company Product Development Award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The award will enable Pelican to develop agonists directed at TNFRSF25, a recently discovered T cell costimulator for immuno-oncology indications. TNFRSF25 antibodies have a distinct mechanism for preferential activation of the tumor cell-killing (CD8+) arm of the immune system, making TNFRSF25 a potential best-in-class target among peer programs targeting OX40, 4-1BB, GITR, CD40 & ICOS.
The CPRIT award will allow Pelican to develop its lead agonist monoclonal antibody, PTX-25, through a ~70-patient first-in-man clinical program. An Investigational New Drug (IND) application filing is expected in 2017. In conjunction with the award, Pelican will establish its corporate headquarters and laboratory facilities in Austin, Texas.
"T cell costimulators are highly sought after, with many pharmaceutical and biotech companies competing for the same targets," stated Taylor H. Schreiber M.D./Ph.D., Director of Pelican Therapeutics and Chair of its Scientific Advisory Board. "In contrast, Pelican is the only company with disclosed TNFRSF25 agonist antibodies and foundational intellectual property based on them. Comparative data from Pelican's preclinical studies indicate that targeting TNFRSF25 has significant potential advantages over competing costimulatory receptors."
While checkpoint inhibitors have led to a paradigm shift in cancer therapy, clinical responses are limited to a minority of patients. Combination approaches with T cell costimulators have the potential to show improved clinical responses across a broader patient population.
"The CPRIT award evaluation process is very rigorous," added Josiah Hornblower, CEO and Chairman of Pelican Therapeutics. "Our application was scrutinized by oncology specialists as well as experts in preclinical and clinical drug development, regulatory issues, and business management. We now have the opportunity to establish Pelican in Texas and leverage the state's burgeoning medical and technological infrastructure to bring a potentially transformative new therapy to cancer patients."
About Pelican Therapeutics
Pelican Therapeutics is a privately held immuno-oncology company focused on developing agonists to TNFRSF25, a differentiated and potentially best-in-class T cell costimulatory receptor. TNFRSF25 has shown great promise due to its preferential specificity for stimulating the production of "memory" CD8+ T cells, the strongest predictive biomarker of clinical benefit from cancer immunotherapy. T cell costimulatory therapy, when combined with checkpoint inhibitors and other treatments, could significantly improve clinical responses for a broader range of patients. Pelican has conducted extensive preclinical studies and completed humanization of its lead monoclonal antibody, PTX-25.
About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)
Beginning operations in 2009, CPRIT has to date awarded $1.57 billion in grants to Texas researchers, institutions and organizations. CPRIT provides funding through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs. Programs made possible with CPRIT funding have reached all 254 counties of the state, brought more than 100 distinguished researchers to Texas, advanced scientific and clinical knowledge, and provided more than 2.8 million life-saving education, training, prevention and early detection services to Texans. Learn more at cprit.texas.gov. Follow CPRIT at twitter.com/CPRITTexas and facebook.com/CPRITTexas.
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