Amorfix and Trellis Bioscience to collaborate on anti-CD38 antibody treatment for cancer

TSX: AMF

TORONTO, March 17, 2014 /CNW/ - Amorfix Life Sciences, a product development company focused on diagnostics and therapeutics for misfolded protein diseases, today announced that it has entered into a collaboration with Trellis Bioscience to develop antibodies against misfolded CD38 protein as a treatment for haematological malignancies including leukemia and lymphoma.

Trellis is a private, South San Francisco-based therapeutic antibody company formed around a breakthrough discovery platform capable of isolating therapeutic grade antibodies directly from the blood cells of humans. The Company's discovery platform, called CellSpotTM, uses computerized microscopy to drastically miniaturize a multiplexed antigen binding assay capable of characterizing millions of individual antibody producing B cells. Hence, CellSpot enables discovery of very rare high quality human antibodies usually not detectable with standard techniques.

Amorfix's ProMIS™ Discovery technology identifies disease specific epitopes (DSE's) that are present only on diseased cells.  Together, the complementary technologies will enable the companies to isolate and develop fully human therapeutic antibodies that will target only cancer cells and not healthy ones. Under the terms of the collaboration, Amorfix will have an exclusive option to develop any resulting antibodies.

"We are very pleased to be working together with Trellis to develop tumor selective antibody therapeutics for the treatment of blood cell cancers", said Dr. Robert Gundel, Amorfix President and CEO. "This collaboration is a great example of two companies with complementary expertise, technology and capabilities joining forces to develop the next generation of targeted therapeutics.  CD38 represents an attractive target for the development of a therapeutic for the treatment of diseases like multiple myeloma and leukemia. Our product will be the first anti-CD38 antibody that binds to the misfolded CD38 protein expressed on the cell surface of tumor cells making it a selective tumor killer while having no affect on normal cells."

Stefan Ryser, Ph.D., Trellis President and CEO said: "This collaboration with Amorfix is an important step in further extending our innovative cancer program that emerged from our discovery of antibodies against various cancer antigens in the blood of healthy donors. As we have explored the memory B-cells of healthy and disease survivor blood donors, we have detected rare high affinity antibodies that potentially protect those individuals from cancers and other diseases. Our CellSpot technology provides the ability to scan through millions of candidate antibodies in order to find the rare protective antibodies. By cloning those antibodies, we have the opportunity to provide that protection to everyone.

About CD38
CD38 is a protein that is highly expressed on the surface of a variety of white blood cells and has been implicated in a number of hematologic malignancies including multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, follicular lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma.

Antibodies that bind to misfolded CD38 have the potential to only kill tumor cells, and not normal cells, through a variety of ways including the recruitment of the body's immune system for complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC), antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC), induced cell death (apoptosis) as well as by blocking or modulating CD38 enzymatic activity.

About Hematologic Malignancies
Hematological malignancies account for about 10% of new cancer diagnoses in the United States and the UK which translates into 200,000 people being affected each year. Within this category, lymphomas are more common than leukemias. Historically, hematological malignancies have been most commonly divided by whether the malignancy is mainly located in the blood (leukemia or in lymph nodes (lymphomas).

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells, a type of white blood cell normally responsible for producing antibodies. In multiple myeloma, collections of abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, where they interfere with the production of normal blood cells. Myeloma is diagnosed with blood tests, bone marrow examination, urine protein analysis, and X-rays of commonly involved bones.

Myeloma develops in 1-4 per 100,000 people per year. It is more common in men and, for reasons not fully understood, is twice as common in African-Americans as it is in European-Americans. With conventional treatment, median survival is 3-4 years, which may be extended to 5-7 years or longer with advanced treatments. Multiple myeloma is the second most common hematological malignancy in the U.S. (after non-Hodgkin lymphoma), and constitutes 1% of all cancers.

Chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL), is the most common type of leukemia. Leukemias are cancers of the white blood cells.  CLL affects B cell lymphocytes. B cells originate in the bone marrow, develop in the lymph nodes, and normally fight infection by producing antibodies. In CLL, B cells grow out of control and accumulate in the bone marrow and blood, where they interfere with the function of healthy blood cells.

CLL is a disease of adults but can occur in teenagers and children. Greater than 75% of people newly diagnosed with CLL are over the age of 50, and the majority are men.

Most people with CLL are diagnosed without symptoms as the result of a routine blood test that shows a high white blood cell count.  In advanced cases, CLL causes swollen lymph nodes, spleen, and liver, and eventually anemia and infections. Early CLL is not treated, and late CLL is treated with chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies.

About Amorfix
Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd. (TSX:AMF) is an early-stage product development company developing therapeutic antibodies and diagnostics targeting misfolded protein diseases. Amorfix utilizes its computational discovery platform, ProMIS™, to predict novel Disease Specific Epitopes (DSEs) on the molecular surface of misfolded proteins. Using this technology, Amorfix is developing novel antibody therapeutics and companion diagnostics for cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In addition, Amorfix has developed two proprietary technologies to specifically identify very low levels of misfolded proteins in a biological sample: Epitope Protection™ and AMFIA™, an ultra-sensitive dual-bead immunoassay. Use of these technologies has generated a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) screening test for both Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and an ultrasensitive method for detecting the hallmark of AD, aggregated beta-Amyloid, in brain tissue, CSF and blood from animal models of AD. For more information about Amorfix, visit www.amorfix.com.

About Trellis Bioscience LLC
Trellis Bioscience is a private, venture-funded therapeutic antibody company located in South San Francisco, California with a focus on infectious diseases and cancer.  Projects include anti-viral and anti-bacterial programs. The Company's lead program is targeting cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is undergoing IND-enabling studies, other projects target influenza virus, as well as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Pseudomonas infections. Trellis has discovered its first antibodies against cancer antigens in the blood of healthy donors forming the foundation of its innovative cancer program.  Trellis' program to isolate monoclonal anti-drug antibodies (ADAs) in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies is leveraged by a proprietary computational algorithm to identify B-cell epitopes.

For more information about Trellis Bioscience, visit www.trellisbio.com.

The TSX has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. This information release may contain certain forward-looking information. Such information involves known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those implied by statements herein, and therefore these statements should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results. All forward-looking statements are based on the Company's current beliefs as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to it as well as other factors.  Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this press release. Due to risks and uncertainties, including the risks and uncertainties identified by the Company in its public securities filings, actual events may differ materially from current expectations. The Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

SOURCE Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd.

For further information:

Dr. Robert Gundel
President and Chief Executive Officer
Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd.
Tel: (416) 847-6957
Fax: (416) 847-6899
bob.gundel@amorfix.com

Warren Whitehead
Chief Financial Officer
Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd.
Tel: (416) 644-7358
Fax: (416) 847-6899
warren.whitehead@amorfix.com

Stefan Ryser, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Trellis Bioscience LLC
Tel: (650) 616-1121
sryser@trellisbio.com