MacroGenics, Inc, a privately held biotechnology company that develops immunotherapeutics to treat autoimmune disorders, cancer and infectious diseases, today announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the company three new grants representing total funding of $9.8 million. These grants will help MacroGenics further advance its Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting (DART), or bispecific antibody scaffold platform, as well as its portfolio of infectious disease product candidates. The first of three recently awarded NIH grants will fund preclinical IND-enabling activities related to MacroGenics' Inflammation DART. This DART specifically targets B lymphocytes with the potential to treat a broad range of autoimmune diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other disorders.
MacroGenics was awarded two additional NIH grants related to infectious disease pathogens. These grants, both of which fall under NIH's "Partnerships for Biodefense Viral Pathogens," cover research and development activities to create an antibody-based therapy for Chikungunya Virus and a DART-based pan-Dengue Virus immunotherapeutic for prophylaxis and treatment of Dengue Virus. Both viruses are insect-borne and transmitted to humans by virus-carrying mosquitoes. Dr. Michael Diamond at Washington University in St. Louis developed the Chikungunya and Dengue antibodies and is the grantee for the Chikungunya Virus award; MacroGenics is the sub-recipient.
MacroGenics also announced today the publication of two articles related to its DART platform. These articles appeared in the July 2010 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism and the June 2010 issue of Journal of Molecular Biology. In addition, progress with respect to the company's DART platform has been presented at several recent scientific conferences.
This platform has broad potential applications for developing novel therapeutics. These include approaches to signaling immune-mediated cells to treat autoimmune disorders, the redirecting of immune cells to kill tumors and inhibition of different signaling pathways required for tumor growth. Furthermore, this technology is especially promising for treating certain infectious diseases, as it enables the targeting of two serotypes of a pathogen with a single molecule.
"We have made tremendous progress on our DART platform," said Dr. Scott Koenig, President and CEO. "We believe we have the ability to create highly potent DART-based therapeutics and the funding from NIH will help us move forward two product candidates based on our proprietary platform."