- New investments from IP Group, Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and Schroeder Adveq
- Proceeds to fund phase 1 studies in both CD19 malignancy and neuroblastoma, as well as preclinical work in hepatocellular carcinoma
- Kevin S Boyle, Sr, named CEO of the new business
- Allogeneic natural killer T cell-based therapy platform could overcome challenges of current autologous CAR-T therapies
HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kuur Therapeutics today announced the launch of its new business in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor’s Center for Cell and Gene Therapy. Houston-based Kuur Therapeutics will advance the work of its predecessor, Cell Medica, to develop anti-cancer therapies using its innovative chimeric antigen receptor natural killer T cell (CAR-NKT) therapy platform.
IP Group, Baylor College of Medicine and Schroeder Adveq are investing to support two phase 1 studies: GINAKIT 2 (autologous CAR-NKT cells in neuroblastoma) and ANCHOR (allogeneic CAR-NKT cells in CD19 malignancy). The ongoing GINAKIT2 study is now enrolling patients at the third dose level and the ANCHOR study IND has recently been approved by the FDA, with first patient treatment expected in 1H 2020. The funding will also support the preclinical development of an allogeneic CAR-NKT product for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, ahead of an IND submission anticipated in 1H 2021.
In conjunction with the new investment, Kevin S Boyle, Sr, was named CEO of Kuur, succeeding Chris Nowers. Mr Boyle joined Cell Medica as CFO in February 2018. Kevin previously held senior finance roles at both NASDAQ-listed and private equity backed companies. He is an accomplished capital markets professional, having raised over $2.0 billion in equity and debt capital.
Kuur’s novel CAR-NKT platform is a next-generation technology of engineered immune cells with enhanced functions for the treatment of hematological and solid tumors. It utilizes the unique properties of NKT cells, a specialized type of innate lymphocyte, which shares properties with both T and NK cells. This platform, developed in the laboratory of Baylor Principal Investigator Leonid Metelitsa, is exclusively licensed to Kuur by its partner and collaborator, Baylor College of Medicine.
Annalisa Jenkins, Chair of Kuur’s Board, said: “We are fortunate to have Kevin step up to the role of CEO. He will act as a change agent, leading the company during a crucial period for our clinical trials and working to secure the additional capital required to progress our two lead CAR-NKT products through the clinic.
“The Board would also like to thank Chris for his exceptional leadership during a transition period that has resulted in a company on the right path forward for its investors, with a focus on its important collaborations.”
Kevin S Boyle, Sr, Kuur’s CEO, said: “I am excited to lead Kuur Therapeutics at such a pivotal moment. We are making final preparations to take our off-the-shelf program into the clinic and believe the allogeneic approach holds huge promise for unlocking the potential of CAR therapies for large patient populations. Compared with patient-specific autologous CAR products, it is immediately available for treatment and less expensive to manufacture.”
Leonid S. Metelitsa, BCM Principal Investigator, said: “My goal is to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients, especially children, and I’m excited to be working with the Kuur team to make this goal a reality. I believe that the NKT-cell platform technology, developed in my laboratory and progressed to first-in-human clinical testing in close collaboration with colleagues at BCM and Texas Children’s Hospital, offers a unique route to next-generation off-the-shelf CAR therapies for a broad range of malignancies.”
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Notes to Editors
About Kuur Therapeutics
Kuur Therapeutics, headquartered in Houston, is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on transforming the treatment of solid and hematological cancers by developing next generation chimeric antigen receptor-natural killer T cell (CAR-NKT) therapies. Developing a portfolio of primarily allogeneic therapies, the company’s revolutionary platform spanning both hematological and solid tumors is being created in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor’s Center for Cell and Gene Therapy.
About Kuur’s CAR-NKT cell technology
One of the challenges with allogeneic therapies is that infusing a patient with donor-derived lymphocytes can induce graft versus host disease (GvHD), a potentially life-threatening condition in which the infused cells recognize the patient’s tissues as foreign. The NKT cells used in Cell Medica’s CAR-NKT platform have an invariant T cell receptor (iTCR) that does not distinguish between self- and non-self tissues, making them unlikely to induce GvHD when given to another person. Kuur’s CAR-NKT cells are also engineered to secrete IL-15, to prolong persistence and enhance anti-tumor activity.
Baylor has previously reported evidence of clinical activity and a good safety profile in neuroblastoma patients treated at low dose levels of autologous CAR-NKT cells at the 2019 American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy conference.
About Baylor College of Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) in Houston is recognized as a premier academic health sciences center and is known for excellence in education, research and patient care. It is the only private medical school in the greater southwest and is ranked 16th among medical schools for research and 5th for primary care by U.S. News & World Report. Baylor is listed 21st among all U.S. medical schools for National Institutes of Health funding and number one in Texas. Located in the Texas Medical Center, Baylor has affiliations with seven teaching hospitals and jointly owns and operates Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, part of CHI St. Luke’s Health. Currently, Baylor trains more than 3,000 medical, graduate, nurse anesthesia, physician assistant and orthotics students, as well as residents and post-doctoral fellows.
About the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
The Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, and Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas is led by Helen E Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon), Director and Malcolm K Brenner, MD, PhD, Founding Director. The Center for Cell and Gene Therapy provides an infrastructure to rapidly translate novel cell and gene therapy protocols from the laboratory to the clinic. The comprehensive approach of the center brings a wide variety of scientists and clinicians together to develop strategies for the treatment of cancer, HIV and cardiovascular disease. Patient facilities include the adult stem cell transplant unit at Houston Methodist Hospital and the pediatric stem cell transplant unit at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Kevin S. Boyle Sr., CEO
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