TORONTO, April 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Trillium Therapeutics Inc., a privately-held biopharmaceutical company developing proprietary and innovative biologic therapies, today provided an update on its lead cancer program - a SIRPaFc fusion protein targeting the CD47 pathway.
Trillium's SIRPaFc development candidate is a proprietary antibody-like fusion protein that blocks the activity of CD47, a molecule upregulated on many leukemias and solid tumors. 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. Elegant genetic experiments in mice have demonstrated that the CD47-SIRPa axis is critical for promoting the engraftment and dissemination of human leukemic cells. By binding and sequestering CD47 on cancer cells, SIRPaFc has been shown to promote phagocytosis of tumour cells in vitro and to have strong anti-cancer effects in human tumor xenograft models. Trillium's findings are in close agreement with those of Dr. Irving Weissman and colleagues at Stanford University, who have used an alternative approach to block CD47, independently validating this immunotherapeutic strategy.
Dr. Niclas Stiernholm, the company's CEO commented "Trillium Therapeutics has a long-standing interest and strength in the field of immune regulation, particularly in the negative pathways that malignant cells exploit to suppress anti-tumor responses. We agree with the abundance of recent media commentaries that this is a highly promising area of cancer research, but we also caution that it will take substantial efforts to maximize the clinical development of an agent such as SIRPaFc, given its broad therapeutic applicability. We recognize the importance of securing an experienced development partner in order to fully realize the commercial potential of this program."
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. Trillium currently has two preclinical programs, SIRPaFc and CD200 mAb, that target two key immunoregulatory pathways that tumour cells exploit to evade the host immune system. 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. 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. 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.
For further information:
Niclas Stiernholm, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Trillium Therapeutics Inc.
Tel: (416) 595-0627