SAN DIEGO – (COMMERCIAL THREAD) – Onchilles Pharma today announced a $ 7 million Series A financing from LYZZ Capital and includes a $ 500,000 investment from the University of Chicago’s Startup Investment Fund. Proceeds from the funding will be used to develop first-class therapies to activate a novel pathway in the innate immune system with potential for universal anticancer activity, independent of genetic mutation. Research published in today’s issue of Cell is the first to describe this pathway where human neutrophils release a catalytically active neutrophil elastase, called ELANE, to selectively kill many types of cancer cells while sparing non-cancer cells.
“The ELANE pathway is an entirely new treatment paradigm with the potential to have broad and selective anti-cancer activity regardless of genetic mutation or anatomical origin,” said Lev Becker, Ph.D., principal investigator of the publication, scientific founder and member of the board of directors. of Onchilles Pharma, and Associate Professor in the Ben May Department of Cancer Research at UChicago. “We have found that ELANE initiates a complex killing mechanism that results in the apoptosis of cancer cells at the initial tumor site and increases adaptive immunity that attacks metastasis from a distance. We believe that ELANE is the start of a highly conserved neutrophil pathway that is the immune system’s first response to aberrant cells and could be the Achilles heel of cancer.
Research data published today shows that ELANE selectively kills cancer cells by proteolytically releasing the CD95 death domain, which interacts with histone H1. ELANE launches a complex cancer destruction program that suppresses cell survival pathways, induces DNA damage, elevates the production of reactive oxygen species in the mitochondria, and ultimately activates the effectors of apoptosis. ELANE consistently activated this program in 35 different cancer cell lines, but not in the non-cancer cells tested. In animal models, ELANE attenuates primary tumor growth and produces an abscopal effect mediated by CD8 + T cells to attack distant metastases.
“As part of innate immunity, neutrophils have extensive efficacy and specificity in eliminating genetically diverse cellular threats, and ELANE is the major anticancer protein in the neutrophil arsenal,” said Court R. Turner, co-founder and Executive Chairman of Onchilles Pharma and Partner at LYZZ Capital. “Our first in vitro and in vivo preclinical studies of our first drug candidate to activate this pathway show direct and selective anticancer efficacy, an encouraging safety profile and a lack of resistance in the event of repeated exposure. This funding will support preclinical proof-of-concept studies as well as the exploration of this new path for additional drug targets.
The research titled “Neutrophil elastase selectively kills cancer cells and attenuates tumorigenesis” was published in the June 10, 2021 issue of Cell and is available at this link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2021.04.016.
Onchilles holds an exclusive license to the intellectual property generated by this research from the University of Chicago. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago manages the intellectual property under license and has negotiated the exclusive license with Onchilles Pharma.
About LYZZ Capital
LYZZ Capital is a dedicated life sciences venture capital fund with offices in Shanghai and San Diego. It invests globally in innovative biotechnology and medical technology companies addressing unmet medical needs. Members of LYZZ’s leadership team have decades of entrepreneurial and management experience in multinational startups and pharmaceutical companies. They are proud to work with the companies in their portfolio and to share their operational expertise and their global network. For more information, visit www.lyzzcap.com.
About Onchilles Pharma
Onchilles Pharma was founded on groundbreaking research into a novel neutrophil pathway which, when selectively and completely activated, kills cancer cells. Based on this research, the private biotech company is developing a pipeline of first-class drug candidates that have the potential to be widely effective against a wide range of cancers. Onchilles is headquartered at Alexandria GradLabs in San Diego. For more information, visit www.onchillespharma.com.