Proceeds will support development of novel antibody drugs that convert immunologically “cold” tumors into treatable “hot” tumors, with the goal of enhancing effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy.
Houston, May 25, 2021 – Asylia Therapeutics, Inc. (“Asylia”), a development-stage biotechnology company advancing novel immune modulating therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases, today announced the closing of a $14.5 million Series A financing led by Sporos Bioventures, LLC. The funds will be deployed to bring Asylia’s multiple assets to first-in-human clinical trials for oncology and at the same time potentially generate proof-of-concept signals in auto-immune diseases such as lupus.
“While cancer research has come a significant way with the approval of the first wave of immunotherapies, many patients do not respond to checkpoint inhibitors and are in need of different options,” commented Robert Orlowski, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder of Asylia. “Our platform is now being converted into an antibody therapeutic with remarkable anti-tumor activity across a wide spectrum of established cancer models. We look forward to working to advance this discovery into a new hope for patients and families affected by certain cancers.”
Asylia’s platform centers on a fundamental mechanism of immunity and immune evasion – the presentation of antigens to the immune system to trigger a cytotoxic T-cell tumor response. Its lead antibody, ASY-77A, enhances antigen presentation by targeting the extracellular form of heat shock protein (HSP70), a molecule central to antigen delivery to the immune system. ASY-77A is antigen-agnostic and has potential in a variety of tumor types.
HSP70’s role is especially crucial in shuttling tumor-derived antigens to dendritic cells (DCs), which capture, process, and present tumor antigens to other immune cells to initiate the development of immune responses against all cancers (or self-antigens or viral antigens). HSP70 also regulates the activity of other immune cells including macrophages and cytotoxic T-cells. In the tumor microenvironment, the function of DCs, macrophages and T-cells are suppressed through multiple mechanisms, thereby aiding and abetting cancer cell survival and precluding the development of anti-tumor immune responses even with immune checkpoint inhibitors. The anti-tumor activity of ASY-77A stems from its activation of multiple arms of the immune system, including the activation of antigen presenting cells and killer T-cells.
Michael Wyzga, Chief Financial Officer of Sporos, added, “Sporos is thrilled to enable the development of this breakthrough therapeutic modality. Our team has been incredibly impressed by Asylia’s progress thus far and looks forward to supporting the development of the company’s platform, which we believe has significant potential for the treatment of diverse cancers and autoimmune diseases. With a world class team of co-founders, seasoned biotech executives, and renowned SAB members, Asylia is ideally positioned as it moves into this first stage of clinical development.”
In conjunction with the Series A financing, Karthik Radhakrishnan, a Houston-based biotech executive and the former CFO of publicly traded Opexa Therapeutics, has been appointed founding Chief Executive Officer.
About Asylia Therapeutics
Asylia Therapeutics is a private, development-stage biotechnology company advancing novel immune modulating therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases, which collectively impact tens of millions of Americans annually. Founded in 2019 by three physician-scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Robert Orlowski, MD, Ph.D., professor and past chair of the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma, Ronald A. DePinho, MD, professor and past president, and Richard J. Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma), Asylia is based in Houston, Texas. The company’s platform centers on a drug pipeline capable of modulating antigen presentation to the immune system which has, to date, produced anti-tumor responses across multiple cancer models. Asylia is supported by a $3 million grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas. To learn more, visit www.asyliatx.com
About Sporos Bioventures
Sporos is transforming knowledge into new hope for patients. With deep roots in Texas, connections within Texas Medical Center (TMC), and reach across the industry, the company identifies novel disease mechanisms and strategically deploys talent, capital and access to operational resources to catalyze the development of breakthrough medicines. Sporos’ current pipeline is diversified across three business units and includes multiple clinical-stage candidates that are being investigated for the treatment of multiple indications in cancer and immune disease.