Startup Spotlight: Poseida Therapeutics’ genome engineering
San Diego, California-based Poseida Therapeutics is a biopharmaceuti cal firm using gene engineering to create cell and gene therapeutics.
At the clinical stage, the company continues to discover and develop potential cures through its platforms, which include the piggyBac DNA modification system, Cas-CLOVER site-specific gene editing system and gene delivery technologies.
The company is pursuing cures for cancer and other diseases, which work by grafting to the patient’s body and harnessing the immune system for long-lasting responses which may have the capacity to work in a single treatment.
Recent developments at the company include the dosing of the first patient in a clinical trial of a t herapeutic candidate to treat prostate cancer last month. At the time, Eric Ostertag, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Poseida, said: "Extending our gene engineering technology to solid tumors represents the next opportunity in oncology where we believe our proprietary platforms and approach have advantages over others in the space.
“Our platform technologies, which include the piggyBac DNA Modification System and Cas-CLOVER site-specific gene editing system, are driving our diverse pipeline of next-generation CAR-T treatments for hematologic and solid tumors, as well as gene therapies addressing rare diseases."
The company has, since its foundation in 2014, raised $336.5mn across six funding rounds, demonstrating the level of excitement around the company’s potential. Its latest Series D round is its second biggest to date, raising $110mn from lead investor Fidelity Management and Research Company, alongside Schonfield Strategic Advisors, Adage Capital Management and “a number of current investors”.
In a press release, Ostertag said: "This financing supports the approach we are taking to leverage our broad proprietary gene engineering platform technologies, including the piggyBac DNA Modification System and Cas-CLOVER site-specific gene editing system, for the creation of numerous differentiated cell and gene therapy product candidates.”
NHS opens 8 clinical trial sites to assess cancer treatment
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) is opening eight clinical trial sites to assess patients' responses to personalised cancer therapy.
The trials will analyse how patients diagnosed with advanced melanoma or non-small cell lung cancer respond to immunotherapy, to help predict their response to treatment. They will be hosted at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust facilities.
Immunotherapy helps the body's own immune system fight cancer, but while it has achieved good results for some cancer patients, it is not successful for everyone. Finding ways to predict which people will respond to the treatment is a major area of research.
OncoHost, an oncology startup, will provide advanced machine learning technology to develop personalised strategies aiming to improve the success rate of the cancer therapy. The trials will contribute to OncoHost’s ongoing PROPHETIC study, which uses the company’s host response profiling platform, PROphet®.
“Immunotherapy has achieved excellent results in certain situations for several cancers, allowing patients to achieve longer control of their cancer with maintained quality of life and longer survival,” said Dr David Farrugia, Consultant Medical Oncologist at NHS, and chief investigator of all eight NHS clinical trial sites.
“However, success with immunotherapy is not guaranteed in every patient, so this PROPHETIC study is seeking to identify changes in proteins circulating in the blood which may help doctors to choose the best treatment for each patient."
"I am excited that Gloucestershire Oncology Centre and its research department have this opportunity to contribute to this growing field of research and I am determined that our centre will make a leading national contribution in patient recruitment.”
Previous studies in the US and Israel have shown that PROphet® has high accuracy in predicting how patients with cancer will respond to various therapies.