Novel Approach to Adoptive Immunotherapy Developed by NexImmune’s Scientific Co-Founders
Technology provides rapid validation of patient-specific neoantigens as potential targets for individualized cancer therapy

GAITHERSBURG, Maryland, July 15, 2015 — NexImmune, an early stage biopharmaceutical company, today announced the publication of a study from the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Schneck of The Johns Hopkins University, a Scientific Co-founder of NexImmune, that reports the development of a new approach for adoptive cellular therapy.  In this study artificial Antigen Presenting Cells (aAPC) were used to stimulate rapid ex-vivo Enrichment and Expansion (E+E) of tumor-specific T cells.  Within a two-week period, these cancer fighting cells were expanded to numbers that represent potentially therapeutic levels – when they could be adoptively transfused back into a patient in the form of cellular immunotherapy. This new technology can also be used to validate patient-specific neoantigens. Neoantigens are formed as a result of mutations arising in cancer cells and can be detected by a patient’s T cells with the same strength as they may detect microbial antigens. Neoantigens have recently been described as clinically desirable targets for the development of personalized cancer immunotherapies. 

Dr. Mathias Oelke, Scientific Co-founder and Senior Director of Discovery at NexImmune and co-author on the publication, noted the broad potential of this approach for the development of more efficacious, cost-effective, and safe cellular therapies: “Despite recent advances in cancer immunotherapies, multiple challenges to increasing the rate of induction of durable responses remain.  These challenges are complex, and primarily due to tumor heterogeneity, escape mechanisms, lack of tumor immunogenicity and the ability to deliver safe, timely treatments in a scalable cost effective manner”. Dr. Oelke continued “Adoptive T cell therapy is a highly promising approach for treating a range of cancers. However, the available methods can be prohibitively expensive or may be associated with severe side effects. We believe the E+E method using aAPC represents a significant step forward as it provides for rapid expansion of the patient’s own repertoire of cancer-fighting T cells that does not rely on any genetic manipulation or re-engineering of the T cell”.

Noting that this approach could also lead to highly personalized cancer therapy, Professor Pedro Romero of the Ludwig Cancer Research Center and Associate Director of the Department of Fundamental Oncology, University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, a leading researcher in the area of antigen-specific T cell biology, added “Several recent discoveries have pointed to neoantigens that are uniquely expressed on each patient’s tumor as very promising targets for the development of cancer immunotherapy. The development of the E+E method for validation of these neoantigens represents a significant breakthrough that should lead to more effective, safer and more individualized treatments”.

NexImmune, Inc. holds an exclusive worldwide license to the Artificial IMmune (AIM™) technology from The Johns Hopkins University based on the aAPC technology originally developed by Drs. Schneck and Oelke. The Company’s CEO, Ken Carter noted “the development of this aAPC-based E+E technology greatly expands the potential for aAPC-based products. We had been solely focused on the development of our first product, AIM 101, an injectable aAPC treatment of cancer. But, E+E provides the opportunity to develop a complementary multi-antigen specific adoptive cellular therapy that could deliver safe and effective treatments in a scalable and cost effective manner. We believe this technology may overcome the problems of tumor heterogeneity and escape”.

About NexImmune

NexImmune is an early stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel immuno-therapeutics based on the proprietary Artificial IMmune (AIM™) nanotechnology platform. Central to the AIM™ technology are artificial Antigen Presenting Cells (aAPCs) that can be engineered to orchestrate a highly targeted immune attack directed toward specific foreign substances or cell types in the body. In pre-clinical studies, aAPCs have demonstrated potential utility as therapeutic agents and can also be used for the development of diagnostic products. NexImmune is focusing the AIM technology platform to develop a pipeline of products to treat cancer. For more information visit:  www.neximmune.com

Citation:  Karlo Perica, et al., "Enrichment and Expansion with Nanoartificial Antigen Presenting Cells for Adoptive Immunotherapy". ACS Nano (2015), DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b02829.  ACS Nano Publication