Flashpoint Therapeutics cancer vaccine uses nanotech approach
To do this, the researchers will apply what Mirkin calls “rational vaccinology” to design the structure of vaccines, controlling the placement of the two main components – adjuvants and antigens – to multiply efficiency.
With the right design, cancer vaccines can be turned from ineffective to curative, which is interesting, said Mirkin, who was on Crane. 2020 Technology 50 list and was a member 40 to 40 years old Issue of 2001.
“Historically, cancer vaccines have not been effective because structure has not been considered,” he said, even though other pharmaceuticals are developed with painstaking attention to structure.
Instead, Mikrin noted, conventional vaccines simply combined antigens that target the immune system and adjuvants, stimulants that increase the effectiveness of the antigen and hope they work.
“From this mixed hodgepodge, an immune cell can isolate 50 antigens and one adjuvant, or one antigen and 50 adjuvants,” Michelle Teplensky, a former researcher at Northwestern University and co-founder of Flashpoint with Mirkin, said in a statement. “But there has to be an optimal ratio of each that maximizes the effectiveness of the vaccine.”
The spherical nucleic acids invented and developed by Mirkin allow scientists to accurately determine how much antigens and adjuvants are delivered to cells and allow them to tailor how vaccine components are presented and the speed at which they are processed, Northwestern said in a statement.
In a study by Teplensky, now an assistant professor at Boston University, published this morning in natural biomedical engineeringthe data show that Flashpoint Therapeutics’ approach to designing the structure of a cancer vaccine proved to be more effective than vaccines designed in a more traditional way.
Armed with new research, several years of research and development, and 10 patents for the approach, Mirkin said vaccines will be in clinical trials by next year.
Flashpoint announced its existence earlier this month, said CEO and co-founder Adam Margolin. He said the company has set up pre-funded business operations and is currently raising a seed funding round to build a pipeline starting with three cancer vaccines, first for cervical cancer and then to identify two other types of cancer vaccines. Margolin said in an emailed statement that the company is not currently disclosing funding.
In addition, Flashpoint will develop partnerships with other companies to jointly develop cancer vaccines using sound vaccinology, Margolin said.
Margolin, currently based in Palo Alto, California, was the CEO of NextVivo and for three years was the chair of the Icahn School of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Division of Genetics in New York.
“This opportunity blew me away,” he said of helping launch the company. “Because it’s the best shot I’ve seen that really has a big effect on cancer.”
Download the Modern Healthcare app to keep up to date with industry news.
The company said that based on in vivo mouse studies, the Flashpoint method provides 35 times greater co-delivery of adjuvants and antigens to immune cells, 80 times greater immune activation, and 6.5 times greater tumor killing.
“While the idea of effective cancer vaccines has been something of a holy grail… they just haven’t achieved effectiveness,” Margolin said. He added that current vaccines are slowly moving in the right direction, proving they are safe and well tolerated, and producing some clinical response.
“But with our approach, what if it’s not a gradual change, but an incremental change? This will open the market wide open,” he said.
With co-founders from California (Margolin), Boston (Teplensky) and Evanston (Mirkin), the company will bring in experts wherever they are, Margolin said, pointing to a leadership team that also includes Mark Booth, Takeda’s former president. Pharmaceuticals North America and currently EVP of EVP TerSera Therapeutics; lawyer Raymond Nimrod, who won a major CRISPR patent lawsuit in 2022; Nick Manousos, former head of business development at Takeda; and Martha New, who has helped launch over 35 preclinical biotech companies at Baxter Ventures and Agent Capital and will focus on drug development at Flashpoint.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly named Flashpoint Therapeutics. This story first appeared in Crane’s Chicago business.