Researching scorpion toxins to treat brain cancer
Promising research into the use of scorpion toxins to treat brain cancer is underway by recently listed Australian biotech company Chimeric Therapeutics Limited (ASX: CHM).
View the March 2021 Investor Update video presentation by Paul Hopper and Jennifer Chow here.
View the slide presentation here.
Baker Young Corporate Advisory led the pre-IPO funding round for Chimeric (pronounced ‘ky-meric’) in September last year, and then worked as Joint Lead Manager (for which we received fees) to take the company public and list it on the ASX in January of this year through a heavily oversubscribed $35m Initial Public Offering (IPO).
Chimeric is an FDA-approved, clinical stage (where the company is working with patients), cell therapy company focused on bringing the promise of cell therapy to life for patients with cancer. Last year, the company licensed the exclusive global rights to CLTX CAR-T, a CAR-T cell therapy and platform developed at the City of Hope Cancer Centre in Los Angeles by the eminent CAR-T scientists, Professor Christine Brown and Professor Mike Barish.
CAR-T is short for chimeric antigen receptor T-Cell. T-Cells have the capacity to hunt down and destroy abnormal cells, including some cancer cells. CAR-T therapy involves taking an immune T-cell from a patient’s blood and re-programming it to seek out a specific target on the surface of a cancer cell, so CAR-T can be used to retrain and enhance a patient’s immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells.
Now Chimeric is undertaking a Phase 1 clinical trial at City of Hope to determine if chlorotoxin (CLTX), a peptide component of toxins from the “deathstalker” scorpion, can be used to treat glioblastoma (GBM). GBM is the most common and aggressive type of primary brain tumour, and one of the least curable of all human cancers. It has a five-year relative survival rate of nearly 5%, so there is a desperate need for research into treatments that can provide a better prognosis for patients. Chimeric hopes to do that with its CLTX CAR-T therapy, which has shown safety and efficacy in preclinical models to date.
The Phase 1 clinical trial began in September 2020 and expects to enrol up to 30 patients with recurrent or progressive GBM, to establish a maximum tolerated dose schedule for CLTX CAR-T therapy, assess the safety of the therapy, and find some initial evidence to produce the desired result (efficacy). Chimeric will use the data from the Phase 1 trial to determine a recommended dosing plan for Phase 2, which is expected to follow soon after Phase 1 is complete.
Initial data from the Phase 1 clinical study is expected in the second half of CY2021.
Chimeric believes that beyond GBM, CLTX CAR-T has wider applicability and the company is currently developing a clinical trial to study it in other tumours such as melanoma and colorectal cancer.
CAR-T research is attracting plenty of investment and interest from large pharmaceutical companies (“big pharma”), including at the pre-clinical stage. In the US, Legend Biotech completed a US$424 million IPO (the largest biotech IPO on the NASDAQ in 2020) and listed with a US$4 billion market cap. In 2017 Gilead acquired cell therapy specialist Kite Pharma for US$11.9 billion before Celgene acquired cell-based immunotherapy company Juno Therapeutics for US$9 billion the following year.
Chimeric has an impressive team in place at both the board and management levels, including Executive Chairman Dr Paul Hopper, who has more than 25 years’ experience in biotech, healthcare, and life sciences. During his career, Dr Hopper has founded – or been involved in – no fewer than 14 drug companies, mainly in oncology. Dr Hopper first bid for City of Hope’s CAR-T technology six years ago before being successful last year, demonstrating his belief in the research and its potential.
The company has made quality appointments to its team in recent months including an outstanding US-based executive team – Ms Jennifer Chow (COO) and Dr Syed Rizvi (CMO) – both bringing CAR-T experience with leading players in the space including Kite Pharma and Legend Biotech. Former Juno Therapeutics executive Cindy Elkins recently joined the company’s board while another former Kite Pharma senior executive, Dr Eliot Bourk, joined Chimeric as Vice President, Business and Corporate Development, further adding to the depth of skills and experience in the team.
With the Phase 1 trial being an open-label study, multiple interim data readouts are expected, which will underpin news flow in addition to other potential clinical and business development milestones.
Chimeric believes that cell therapies have the potential to cure cancer and that by combining Chimeric’s unique expertise in the development and commercialisation of cell therapies with the world’s most innovative scientists and science, the company will be able to bring this promise of cell therapy to life for more patients with cancer with its CLTX-CAR T and further develop its oncology pipeline through the acquisition of new and novel cell therapy assets.
Baker Young is proud to support Chimeric and would be happy to assist with any additional information on the company.
In the press: Stockhead recently ran an engaging article on Chimeric Therapeutics Limited by Tim Boreham. You can read it here.
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