Trillium's anti-CD47 oncology program highlighted in prestigious journal

TORONTO, Sept. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Trillium Therapeutics Inc. (TTI), a biopharmaceutical company developing innovative and proprietary immune-based biologics, today announced that preliminary results from its preclinical anti-CD47 oncology program have been published in the prestigious Journal of Experimental Medicine (Theocharides et al., published online Sep 3, 2012) The work was conducted in the laboratories of Trillium collaborators Drs. Jean Wang and John Dick at University Health Network, and Dr. Jayne Danska at The Hospital for Sick Children, in Toronto, Ontario.

Trillium's SIRPaFc program targets the activity of CD47, a molecule upregulated on many leukemias and solid tumours. CD47 binds to SIRPa on the surface of macrophages, providing a "do not eat" signal that suppresses phagocytosis, allowing the cancer cells to escape immune-mediated destruction. The study by Theocharides et al. showed, by elegant genetic experiments, that an absence of SIRPa signalling allowed mice to clear human leukemia stem cells (LSCs), a sub-population of tumour cells that are resistant to chemotherapy and are thought to be responsible for disease relapse. Furthermore, the authors showed that blocking CD47 with SIRPaFc promotes phagocytosis of tumour cells in vitro and has strong anti-leukemic effects in a human tumour xenograft model. "These exciting results provide further evidence that CD47 expressed on the surface of LSCs plays an important role in suppressing the anti-cancer immune response, and further validate our approach of using SIRPaFc to mobilize macrophages to kill LSCs", commented Trillium's Vice President, R&D, Dr. Bob Uger. "In addition, Trillium's internal drug development program has advanced substantially in the past 12 months and we are projecting that formal IND-enabling studies with our clinical development candidate could commence later this year."

About Trillium:

Trillium Therapeutics Inc. is a private biopharmaceutical company specializing in innovative therapies in two main areas: cytoprotection and immune regulation. The company's most advanced program, TTI-1612, is a cytoprotective recombinant growth factor that is being developed for the treatment of interstitial cystitis.  The company also has a long-standing interest in the field of immune regulation, in particular the negative pathways that malignant cells exploit to suppress anti-tumour responses. Trillium currently has two preclinical programs, CD200 mAb and SIRPaFc, that target two key immunoregulatory pathways that tumour cells exploit to evade the host immune system. The CD200 mAb is a fully human monoclonal antibody that blocks the activity of CD200, an immunosuppressive molecule that is overexpressed by many hematopoietic and solid tumours. SIRPaFc is a fusion protein that blocks the activity of CD47, a molecule that is upregulated on cancer stem cells in AML and other tumours. Trillium has a broad network of external academic and industry R&D collaborations, and is supported by three premier Canadian venture capital investors: Covington Capital, Growthworks and BDC Capital.

SOURCE: Trillium Therapeutics Inc.

For further information:

Niclas Stiernholm, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Trillium Therapeutics Inc.
96 Skyway Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, M9W 4Y9

Tel:  (416) 595-0627
Fax:  (416) 595-5835


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