Amorfix Life Sciences, a product development company focused on diagnostics and therapeutics for misfolded protein diseases, today announced that together with its partner Epitomics, high affinity antibodies to prion protein disease specific epitopes (DSEs) have been produced, which bind preferentially to several cancer primary cells and tumor cell lines, but not normal cells.
"This represents a significant milestone for our cancer therapeutic antibody program. The generation of high affinity antibodies to DSEs expressed on the surface of cancer cells but not normal cells, as identified by our ProMIS discovery technology, is an entirely new approach to the development of safer and more effective cancer treatments", said Dr. Robert Gundel, Chief Executive Officer of Amorfix. "The production of high affinity antibodies to small peptide sequences, such as the prion protein (PrP) DSEs, can be problematic; however, we are very pleased to be working with Epitomics, whose RabMabs® platform technology was used to produce the antibodies. We are now in the process of fully characterizing the binding properties and biological activity of these antibodies. Based on the outcome of these initial studies, several candidate antibodies will be selected for evaluation in animal models of disease. We expect to initiate our animal model proof of concept studies in the first calendar quarter of next year."
Prion Protein and Cancer
The expression of normal cellular PrP on human peripheral blood mononuclear cells was first identified by Dr. Neil Cashman, CSO of Amorfix, who later also found that a portion of these protein molecules were partially misfolded as determined by the exposure of DSEs. Subsequent studies revealed that PrP expression is elevated on tumor cells and that increased expression of PrP may promote increased survival, thus, allowing tumor cells to grow and divide unchecked. Using our proprietary ProMIS® discovery technology we have identified several DSEs on PrP. By generating antibodies specific to PrP DSEs, Amorfix is producing antibodies that should bind only to the misfolded PrP expressed on the cell surface of tumor cells, but not to the normally folded PrP expressed on normal cells.
The ProMIS Discovery Technology
Amorfix's proprietary drug discovery technology, ProMIS® is a computer based algorithm that predicts DSE's based on thermodynamic analysis to identify the protein regions most likely to lose structure under stressed or mildly denaturing conditions. The ProMIS® technology is used to identify weakly stable regions in soluble or cell-surface proteins and is a proven technology that enables the identification of DSEs on misfolded proteins which serve as candidate cancer-specific epitopes. Amorfix is using this proprietary discovery technology as a novel approach to identify more efficacious and safer antibody therapeutics for the treatment of human diseases.
AMORFIX LIFE SCIENCES LTD.