Research collaboration will develop bispecific agents for oncology

Ixaka and SomaLogic have created a research collaboration to support the development of aptamer-based bispecific therapeutics.

The collaboration will evaluate the safety and efficacy of antigen-specific SOMAmer reagents (modified aptamers that bind tightly and specifically to protein targets) previously identified and screened by SomaLogic as potential candidates for combination with Ixaka’s anti-CD3 aptamers.

Ixaka is currently developing in vivo CAR-T therapies using its in vivo gene delivery technology, which facilitates in vivo targeting and transduction of patient T cells. The universal in vivo gene modification approach relies on proprietary anti-CD3 aptamers selected by Ixaka as targeting agents, which have been applied to engineer aptamer-based BiTEs (Bi-specific T-cell engagers).

SomaLogic’s antigen-specific SOMAmer reagents will now be evaluated with the intention of improving both the safety and efficacy of antibody-based bispecifics. This follows a recent in vitro proof-of-concept study that successfully highlighted the potential of Ixaka’s cancer specific antigenxCD3 bispecific aptamers as new anticancer agents that can recruit cytotoxic T cells and induce killing of tumour cells.

Cecile Bauche, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Ixaka, commented: “We have made great progress with our anti-CD3 aptamer candidate, with recent positive data demonstrating in vitro proof of concept when combined with a cancer-specific antigenic aptamer. SOMAmer molecules are a promising new class of drug entities with the potential to accelerate development of our aptamer-based BiTEs as anti-cancer agents and help us in our mission to offer new and effective treatments for cancer.”

Renaud Vaillant, Vice President, Business Development at Ixaka, commented: “We have been working with aptamers as potential immunotherapies since the inception of the company. We first engaged in discussion with SomaLogic four years ago, when the project was just an idea as part of a presentation. I am proud and excited to finally start this collaboration, which is a result of the tremendous work achieved by our team.”

In the collaboration, SomaLogic will provide SOMAmers for screening and subsequent evaluation of in vitro cytotoxic properties. Ixaka will lead the experiments to identify and evaluate SOMAmer candidates with high affinity and specificity. Further work will determine functional in vitro properties of bispecific aptamers in human cell cultures and evaluate in vivo anticancer efficacy in murine models.

Nebojsa Janjic, Chief Science Officer of SomaLogic, commented: “The ability of SOMAmer reagents to bind with high specificity and affinity to any target protein makes them ideal for the development of novel therapies for oncology. We hope to expand this collaboration with Ixaka in the future to support new treatments for other therapeutic areas.”

SomaLogic’s anti-tumoural SOMAmers demonstrate potential utility as the chemical addition of ‘protein-like’ side chains to the nucleic acid bases that comprise a SOMAmer can be used to develop molecules with high specificity and affinity for any targeted protein, making SOMAmer candidates attractive for novel therapeutic development.

The first application of Ixaka’s TNP technology is the generation of CAR T-cell therapies for haematological malignancies. However, modification of the components offers the potential to target a broad range of therapeutic cells for the treatment of many serious diseases, including cancers, genetic disorders, neurological and ocular diseases.

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