Zurich-Schlieren, March 07, 2016. Molecular Partners AG (ticker: MOLN), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing a powerful new class of therapies known as DARPins, today announced additional details about its immuno-oncology pipeline, including two early-stage multi-DARPin programs. The first program targets the validated immune checkpoint PD-1 as well as VEGF-A, aiming to enhance PD-1 efficacy. The second program is designed to potently activate T-cells in the tumor without activating circulating T-cells, thus circumventing systemic toxicities.
Christian Zahnd, Chief Executive Officer of Molecular Partners, will present additional details about these discovery programs at the 36th Annual Cowen Health Care Conference in Boston, Mass. on Wed., March 9 at 10:40 a.m. Eastern Time.
“The DARPin platform is ideally suited to develop highly differentiated immuno-oncology therapies with the potential to overcome the limitations of first-generation approaches,” said Dr. Michael Stumpp, Chief Scientific Officer at Molecular Partners. “We are excited to contribute to the rapidly evolving field of immuno-oncology as we build our proprietary oncology pipeline. Our early-stage programs evaluate exciting new principles that were previously out of reach: enhanced immune checkpoint blockers and locally activated agonists.”
Immuno-oncology is a revolutionary approach to anti-cancer treatment that redirects the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Investigators are studying many different ways to modulate immune checkpoints used by the body to regulate the immune system. While many of these clinical studies are yielding promising results, novel approaches are needed.
Enhancing the activity of validated checkpoint antagonists
The first proprietary product in Molecular Partners’ immuno-oncology pipeline is a multi-DARPin that blocks the checkpoint target PD-1, inhibits VEGF-A and binds to human serum albumin. This tri-functional DARPin aims to normalize the tumor vasculature by inhibiting VEGF, consequently allowing for more efficient inhibition of PD-1 and more tumor-infiltrating T-cells (TIL). In addition, the DARPin domain binding to serum albumin should result in a long half-life and allow for potentially increased tumor penetration.
Local Activation in Immuno-Oncology
Molecular Partners is also developing multi-DARPins that bind to co-stimulatory activators (agonists) on the surface of T-cells without activating them when bound in circulation. While one
DARPin binds to an agonistic target, another DARPin binds to a densely expressed target in the tumor stroma leading to clustering of agonists and potential activation. Co-stimulatory activators of T-cells are attractive but very difficult targets in the field of immuno-oncology. Current antibody-based approaches are often limited by severe side effects as they tend to cluster throughout the body thereby activating T-cells systemically. This approach aims at activating T-cells only in the tumor microenvironment when the multi-DARPin clusters the agonist via the stroma.
About Molecular Partners in Oncology
Molecular Partners is advancing a growing proprietary pipeline of DARPin therapies in oncology. The most advanced systemic DARPin, MP0250, is in clinical development for solid and hematological tumors. The second most advanced oncology DARPin is MP0274, which has broad anti-HER activity, inhibiting both HER1, HER2, and HER3-mediated downstream signaling via Her2 and leading to induction of apoptosis. MP0274 is currently in preclinical development.
About Molecular Partners AG
Molecular Partners is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing a new, powerful class of therapies known as DARPins. DARPins are potent, specific, and versatile small-protein therapies, which have the potential to offer benefits over conventional monoclonal antibodies or other currently available protein therapeutics. The DARPin technology has the potential to offer a multi-specific approach to treatment, which enables DARPins to target multiple pathways, or multiple epitopes on a single target to achieve substantial patient benefit. DARPins have the potential to advance modern medicine and significantly improve the treatment of serious diseases, including cancer and sight-threatening disorders.
Molecular Partners has four compounds in various stages of clinical and preclinical development and several more in the research stage, with a current focus on ophthalmology and oncology. The company has ongoing research and development partnerships with leading pharmaceutical companies, including Allergan and Janssen, and is backed by established biotech investors. For more information regarding Molecular Partners, go to: www.molecularpartners.com.
For further details, please contact:
Dr. Christian Zahnd, CEO
Tel: +41 (0) 44 755 77 00
Andreas Emmenegger, CFO
Tel: +41 (0) 44 755 77 00
Tel: +41 (0) 43 344 42 42
This communication does not constitute an offer or invitation to subscribe for or purchase any securities of Molecular Partners AG. This publication may contain certain forward-looking statements and assessments or intentions concerning the company and its business. Such statements involve certain risks, uncertainties and other factors which could cause the actual results, financial condition, performance or achievements of the company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such statements. Readers should therefore not place reliance on these statements, particularly not in connection with any contract or investment decision. The company disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements, assessments or intentions.