With IL-12 prospect nearing clinic, Ankyra inks NCI pact to support cancer pipeline progress

Ankyra Therapeutics is bringing on outside expertise to support its bid to unlock the power of cytokines. […]

Ankyra Therapeutics is bringing on outside expertise to support its bid to unlock the power of cytokines. Working with scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Tillman Gerngross, Ph.D., co-founded biotech will carry out basic, translational and clinical research on candidates including its lead IL-12 prospect.

Boston-based Ankyra is built upon a technology for expanding the therapeutic window of cytokine drugs. While cytokines such as IL-12 are potent, systemic toxicity is a barrier to use. Ankyra is seeking to clear that barrier by linking the cytokine to an adjuvant and forming a stable depot after direct delivery to the tumor.

The biotech sees the researchers at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research as a good fit for its pipeline assets, including the IL-12 candidate, ANK-101, that is now in IND-enabling studies ahead of the start of human testing.

“We are especially excited to collaborate with NCI researchers to expand the pre-clinical and clinical development of our lead cytokine therapeutic ANK-101 and look forward to combining our expertise to demonstrate the ability of our anchored immunotherapy platform to enhance the safety and efficacy of powerful immune agonist drugs,” Michael Schmidt, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Ankyra, said in a statement.

The news of the formal cooperative research and development agreement is the latest of updates from Ankyra since it disclosed its $45 million series B round in November. Ankyra disclosed the appointment of Howard Kaufman, M.D., as chief medical officer at the time of the series B round. Late last month, Ankyra promoted Kaufman to the CEO post. Gerngross’ title changed from executive chairman to chairman.

Earlier this month, Kaufman co-authored a presentation at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting that provided a closer look at Ankyra’s work on the intratumoral delivery of IL-12. In a mouse study, Ankyra found the complexes retained IL-12 activity, triggering complete responses, without causing significant weight loss.

Original Article: (https://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/il-12-prospect-nearing-clinic-ankyra-inks-nci-pact-support-cancer-pipeline-progress)