Houston, Texas. May 11, 2020 – Asylia Therapeutics (“Asylia”), a Texas-based, privately held, development-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel immune modulating therapies for cancer, autoimmune, and infectious diseases, today announced it has received a $3 million Seed Award for Product Development Research from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
Asylia will use the funding from CPRIT to further the development of ASY-77A, its lead product candidate. ASY-77A is a novel antibody that targets the extracellular form of Heat shock protein (HSP)-70 that works by increasing the ability of dendritic cells, which are key to initiating immune reactions, to better recognize the presence of cancer cells. As a result, T-cells become activated to kill cancer cells. Notably, ASY-77A has produced complete regression of various cancer types in pre-clinical models including solid tumors such as breast and colon cancer, and blood-related cancers like multiple myeloma.
In 2018, CPRIT unveiled the Seed Award mechanism targeting early-stage oncology startup companies. Under this program, companies can apply for up to $3 million in nondilutive funding to support development of innovative cancer therapeutics, diagnostics or tools. The goal of the award is to assist startups in bridging the gap between translational research and product development, thus bringing disruptive cancer-fighting technologies to market.
“We are honored and delighted to have received this highly-selective Seed Award from CPRIT and the state of Texas. This award will significantly advance our efforts to rapidly move ASY-77A towards clinical development addressing a significant need across multiple diseases, beginning with cancer,” said Jeno Gyuris, PhD, Asylia’s Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer.
Robert Orlowski, MD, Ph.D. Ayslia’s Co-Founder and professor & past chair of the Department of Lymphoma & Myeloma at MD Anderson, is internationally recognized for his basic, translational, and clinical research contributions in hematologic malignancies. Leveraging $1.7 million in non-dilutive funding, Dr. Orlowski developed monoclonal antibodies to targets in the immune microenvironment, including HSP70. ASY-77A, an output of this initial work, is currently undergoing humanization to initiate first in human safety and proof of concept studies. “Our success to date stems from a strong team effort of dedicated, innovative scientists who were enabled by significant support from numerous granting agencies and now CPRIT. This award will enable Asylia to convert ASY-77A into a first-in-class drug that may improve cancer patient outcomes.”
Ronald A. DePinho, MD, Co-Founder & Board Director and professor & past president of MD Anderson, added: “Bob is realizing the dream of every physician scientist to have their research translate into hope for patients. ASY-77A is truly unique in its immune mechanism, functioning to enhance presentation of endogenous tumor-derived antigens bound to HSP70 to DCs, and activate DCs that in turn induce killer T-cell responses.”
About Asylia Therapeutics
Asylia Therapeutics is a private, development-stage biotechnology company advancing novel immune modulating therapies for cancer, autoimmune, and infectious diseases, which collectively impact tens of millions of Americans annually. Founded in 2019 by three prominent physician-scientists at MD Anderson Cancer Center (Robert Orlowski, MD, Ph.D., professor & past chair of the Department of Lymphoma & Myeloma, Ronald A. DePinho, MD, professor & 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 unprecedented anti-tumor responses across multiple cancer models. To learn more, visit www.asyliatx.com
About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas
To date, CPRIT has awarded $2.49 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention, and product development research programs. CPRIT has recruited 200 distinguished researchers, supported the establishment, expansion or relocation of 40 companies to Texas, and generated over $4.7 billion in additional public and private investment. CPRIT funding has advanced scientific and clinical knowledge and provided 6.2 million life-saving cancer prevention and early detection services reaching Texans from all 254 counties. On November 5, 2019, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to provide an additional $3 billion to CPRIT for a total $6 billion investment in cancer research and prevention.