Artist render of cancer cells

Three Reasons we believe in Antion Biosciences

This modular approach is truly unique and unlocks treatment options for any number of indications that can be addressed through immune cell-based approaches

Sep. 14, 2021

BY Michael Casasanta

We are four years post the first FDA approval of a CAR-T cancer therapeutic in 2017, and the world of biopharma is on the precipice of a CAR-T boom. This revolutionary technology genetically modifies the body’s immune cells to track to and kill cancer cells. This brand-new market was valued over $700M USD in 2020 with an expected growth to nearly $4.8B by 2027. With the promise of a new mechanism of action and improved therapeutic delivery to treat various cancers, large pharmaceutical companies and fresh start-ups alike have poured billions of dollars into R&D for this new class of therapeutics. As such, there are over 400 ongoing and completed clinical trials exploring the effectiveness of CAR-T therapies globally. Despite the intense effort put forth by the biopharma industry, this promising new treatment class has faced many hurdles that have prevented it from really establishing itself as the game changer it is believed to be. These treatments are enormously expensive, limited in scope, and the treatments available result in relapse in ~75% of cases after a year.

Currently, approved treatments all use the patient’s own cells, contributing to the high cost and manufacturing challenges. The future of CAR-T, and other adaptive therapies such as NKT-cells, will require the use of allogeneic cell lines, where cells from a healthy donor are modified to create the final product. Enter Antion Biosciences. The team at Antion has developed a breakthrough platform that harnesses the power of microRNA gene silencing through their miCAR technology to create a tunable, modular toolkit to seamlessly and efficiently adapt T cells (in addition to other immune cells) to treat a wide range of diseases using healthy donor cells. CAR-T therapy is on the brink of being used in indications beyond cancer.

Current CAR-T therapies are prohibitively expensive

The nature of standard CAR-T therapy creation is time consuming and expensive. It can take upwards of 6 weeks to collect a patient’s immune cells and perform the necessary gene editing and manufacturing steps to create the final therapeutic. These steps are typically performed sequentially, meaning one gene edit is performed at a time with more than 3-4 gene edits frequently needed. This is time that a cancer patient may not have and results in a product with a price tag upwards of $1 M USD.

Antion’s miCAR technology is a true one-shot technology. In one step, Antion can silence up to 6 genes and simultaneously add in multiple genes, including the Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) that targets the therapeutic to diseased cells. The cell engineering step occurs through microRNA silencing rather than gene deletion.

This gene tuning will rapidly enhance the flexibility of therapeutic development which will decrease overall costs and enhance manufacturing efficiency.

Another large benefit of this multi-gene silencing approach is that it gives Antion the edge in creating an allogenic, or off-the-shelf, therapeutic. Current technologies rely on extracting cells directly from patients, modifying them, then reinfusing the patient with the resulting cells. This inefficiency adds to the overall cost but was necessary to reduce inflammation and patient rejection associated with infusing cells from alternate sources into patients in earlier iterations of CAR-T development. Those problems can now be addressed by Antion’s gene silencing approach that allows them to turn-off genes that would otherwise cause inflammation and patient rejection resulting in a truly stable allogenic cell line.

Antion’s platform is expanding the reach of
CAR-T therapies

Though CAR-T therapies have demonstrated phenomenal results in some clinical trials, those results are limited to liquid tumors like lymphomas and leukemias. A breakthrough is needed to unlock CAR-T therapies for diseases beyond liquid tumors, and cancers in general. Antion’s platform is doing just that. Their ability to silence multiple genes and add multiple genes simultaneously gives them enormous flexibility to perform necessary engineering steps tailored to the indication they are looking to treat. Additionally, with the promise of their allogenic cell line, they can pull treatment ready cells off the shelf, silence or add in genes as necessary, and deploy that treatment to patients in need. This modular approach is truly unique and unlocks treatment options for any number of indications that can be addressed through immune cell-based approaches.

Indeed, Antion has already developed partnerships to deploy their platform to create therapies for everything from COVID-19 and cancer to HIV and sensory disorders.

Antion’s miCAR technology is solving the safety and
efficacy problem of CAR-T therapy

Current therapies result in relapse in a staggering 75% of cases. This is due to a limited time frame that the therapeutic is effective due to T-cell exhaustion, hostile tumor microenvironment, and a lack of targeting options for the therapeutic. Antion’s miCAR technology can address these and other problems in a way that no other competitor is able. Antion can very efficiently silence genes that cause T-cell exhaustion, such as various CD receptors, while simultaneously adding in multiple CARs. Adding more than one CAR helps prevent cancer cells from escaping the therapeutic by diversifying the targeted molecule pool.

Antion is providing game changing solutions for the wider adoption of allogenic CAR-T therapies through their miCAR platform. They will increase the range of indications under the umbrella of engineered cell therapies while simultaneously improving their function, optimizing safety, and dramatically reducing their cost. Antion has developed a platform that will serve as a springboard for the expansion of CAR-T therapeutics beyond liquid tumors and change the outlook on life for countless patients.